CAPE TOWN - Chiefs coach Colin Cooper says he can’t imagine Super Rugby without South African teams.
There has been speculation regarding Super Rugby’s possible expansion to the USA, as well as reports stating that three South African teams - reportedly the Sharks, Stormers and Lions - could exit Super Rugby and head to Europe at the end of the current broadcast deal. However, SANZAAR squashed those rumours earlier this week.
“I can’t imagine that. Super Rugby has been around for so long and South Africa, New Zealand and Australia have really formed the competition,” Cooper said.
The Chiefs boss had more to say about their South African counterparts and the progress he believes they’re making in terms of growing their expansive game.
The Chiefs got a good introduction to the Stormers’ progress in that regard when they met at Newlands during the round-robin stages early last year. The Stormers produced a fantastic performance to win 34-26, while the New Zealanders went on to get revenge in a tight quarter-final later last season (17-11).
The teams meet again on Saturday (kickoff 3.05 pm), and Cooper is getting ready for a challenge of expansive play mixed with a strong set-piece.
“I think all the SA teams are playing a more balanced game. They are still using their set-piece well but there is also expansiveness now. South African rugby is looking good and exciting,” he said.
“When we played the Bulls we were quite amazed they threw the ball around so much and didn’t revert to their lineout driving. Their expansiveness was great the Lions are the same and you’re seeing more of it from the Sharks and Stormers.
“There is no doubt they are still sticking to their strengths but they’re definitely looking more dangerous all around.”
The Chiefs suffered a shock defeat to the Jaguares last week, and Cooper added they will have to be more clinical.
“Our attack has to be better and more clinical this week,” Cooper said. “There is a passion for rugby in Cape Town and our young guys have to get ready for the contest that’s coming.”