Jake White has slammed SA Rugby bosses for selling South Africa’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship teams a false vision in terms of travel, but hopes a new partnership will solve the problem.
A major selling point to convince the local franchises to sign up to the URC was that they would not be bogged down with the long flights that were a bugbear of Super Rugby trips to Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
Instead, the hope was that, by making the shorter trip to Italy, Ireland and the UK, the travel factor would be made a lot easier. Bulls coach White revealed that, during the launch of the inaugural URC season, smoother travel arrangements had not materialised.
“One of the sells to the players was that when we moved on from Super Rugby – even with business class to Sydney – you wouldn’t be that far away from home that often,” White told Sport24.
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“There was even talk of overnight flights [in the URC]. We, for example, can go to Exeter one week for the Champions Cup, come back for a home game and then fly back to Europe for a URC game. [But] if you’re flying all over at various stopovers in economy class, it’s a problem.”
SA Rugby this week announced a new travel partnership with Qatar Airways, which White hopes will solve the travel issue, especially with the European Cup added to the itinerary.
“Hopefully, with the Qatar sponsorship, it has been addressed. Getting to London via, via, via wasn’t how the tournament was sold to us as coaches and players. And I’m pretty sure the expectations were the same for fans who perhaps did have the means to attend the odd away game.”