Stormers South Africa URC

The Stormers celebrate winning the URC in Cape Town. Photo: Jaco Marais

All Blacks great: South Africa hit jackpot after leaving Super Rugby

Legendary former All Blacks player Ma’a Nonu has suggested South Africa have been the big winners after joining the URC.

Stormers South Africa URC

The Stormers celebrate winning the URC in Cape Town. Photo: Jaco Marais

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a seismic shift in the rugby landscape when it was confirmed that South Africa’s leading franchises would be joining the URC competition in the northern hemisphere.

It was a decision somewhat forced upon South Africa after New Zealand decided it was time to cut ties with their long-time domestic foes in Super Rugby.

Ever since then, though, South Africa’s teams have largely made a huge impact in the northern hemisphere, while the standard of Super Rugby has undeniably plateaued.

Former All Blacks superstar Ma’a Nonu has now shared his views on the Kick Offs and Kick Ons podcast, acknowledging the move has undoubtedly benefited South Africa the most.

“I think the Top 14 edges Super Rugby two notches. For one, you’ve got the best players in the world in that competition,” he said. “I hadn’t mentioned the Prem (English Premiership) and the URC because I haven’t played there, but I would say they come second and third, or maybe second equal.

“Super Rugby is still good footy because you’ve got the Australian and Kiwi players, but they haven’t got the exposure to all the other players from other countries.

“South Africa have hit the jackpot. They left because of SANZAAR, but their teams have gotten better and better. The Stormers played the first year in the URC and won the competition.

“Super Rugby’s maybe suffering, I don’t know how long it’s going to be around. The level’s still there, but I believe the Top 14 is ahead.”

South Africa again have two teams competing for top honours in the URC this season

Currently, the URC is heading into its penultimate pool round, and there is plenty to play for. 

The Bulls still have a chance of finishing in the top two for a home quarter-final and possible home semi-final, while the Stormers still harbour hopes of a top four finish for a home quarter-final. Both sides, however, must win both their remaining games and hope that a few other results go their way to assist their cause.

Match information:

Bulls v Benetton
Date: Saturday, 18 May
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Hollie Davidson
SA Time: 14h00
TV: SuperSport

Lions v Glasgow Warriors
Date: Saturday, 18 May
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Craig Evans
SA Time: 16h05
TV: SuperSport

Connacht v Stormers
Date: Saturday, 18 May
Venue: Dexcom Stadium, Galway
Referee: Federico Vedovelli
SA Time: 18h05
TV: SuperSport

Sharks v Cardiff
Date: Saturday, 18 May
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Frank Murphy
SA Time: 18h15
TV: SuperSport