Scott Robertson watches over a Crusaders training session. Photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
PRETORIA - Poor conditioning and a lack of fitness is hampering South African rugby from closing the gap on New Zealand especially in Super Rugby according to Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.

Robertson was speaking after watching his team dismantle the Bulls to a 62-24 record defeat at home and this after beating the Cheetahs 48-21 the week before in Bloemfontein and the Stormers 57-24 in Christchurch.

What has been glaringly obvious for Robertson in the past three weeks and probably prior to playing against the South African franchises has been their inability to keep up with the speed of the game and last the full 80 minutes.

“I think clearly the Bulls struggled with our tempo and how quickly we could play. The week before with the Cheetahs they were probably the toughest team for us to play with regard to the speed of the game, how fit they were and wanting to play an expansive game but they didn’t execute the way they wanted to,” Robertson said. 

"For me, South African teams need to be fitter. Super Rugby is a fast game, it’s a tempo game, it’s a game with a high skill level and you make errors when you are fatigued and it showed when we got momentum. That is clear and it is for everyone to see but I’m saying it."

Another major impediment to South African sides losing their competitive edge in Super Rugby has been the exodus of experienced and senior players abroad and the Bulls have been the hardest hit in recent years.

Robertson believes the gap left by those players has hurt the Bulls as they lack the leadership and mentorship to guide the team and junior players in the competition.

“I think there are a lot of challenges for the Bulls but it is not for me to go to detail about it. With all the experienced players that could have still been playing for the Bulls that are playing over in the United Kingdom and Europe, a lot of that experience has been lost to teach the young guys to come through and what it means to play for them and to prepare and pass on the skills that are required to be a professional rugby player. There is definitely a gap there."

The Star

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