Last week the first Super Rugby match was held outside the tournament’s host countries at the home of rugby, Twickenham. It is now quite easy to see the clear difference in class between the European teams and the southern hemisphere provincial teams. After seeing this match on English soil where we have all seen so many poor performances; now without the influence of a hostile home crowd in Auckland and Sydney, or high altitude and booming kicks in Loftus Versfeld only the class of the men down under were on show. And what a sight it was. With 72 points being scored overall and Dan Carter in supreme form, I think it is even more clear now that the influence of the Southern Hemisphere players makes a huge difference to the standard on display for all in Europe.
So should teams look to increase the amount of Super rugby players in order to add some more class to their squads? After all, perhaps the most valuable player in the premiership is Nick Evans, a former Super Rugby player from New Zealand. Others might contest this title that are much newer to this style of rugby like Schalk Britz of South Africa, or Thomas Waldrom from New Zealand. But all clearly shine in the league as fantastic talents. And there are many more players that have blessed the English premiership from the Tri-Nations that perhaps have gone unnoticed. Other names like Newby for Tigers, Botha for Saracens, James for Bath, all create a new structure and atmosphere in teams and light up the pitch because of it.
Therefore it seems rather more than coincidence that so many good players just happen to come to England and make a huge difference to teams.This has also been the case for other teams in Europe that are regarded as some of the best teams in the World like Tolouse and Munster, and both have a New Zealand influence in Howlett and Kelleher, with both players undoubtedly making a massive difference to the team.
Yet whilst there are so many players coming from the South to grace Northern rugby in France and Britain, why not send players down under to learn the ways of their free flowing rugby in the hope of vastly improving the rugged style of the English play? One of the few examples of this is of Danny Cipriani who left London Wasps to go to the Melbourne Rebels. It seems that he is grasping the Australian way of playing extremely well and as a result is kicking goals, and playing free, running rugby at a fantastic standard.
Or perhaps the best thing for English rugby would surely be to send young talents away early in their career to learn the ways of Carter and Cooper in the Super 15. And maybe as a result, when these players return they would have their own touches of class to add the the Heineken Cup. Who knows? Maybe a Dan Carter type player might slip away from the New Zealand training camps and England may have the best player in the world once more.