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‘A complete aberration’ – France legend blames South Africa for ‘rubbish’ Champions Cup

The great France wing Philippe Saint-Andre believes that the introduction of the South African sides into the Champions Cup has harmed the competition.

South Africa chose to side with the north after leaving Super Rugby in 2020, and four of their teams joined the PRO14, which later changed its name to the United Rugby Championship.

Prior to the 2022–2023 season, they were permitted to qualify for Europe, despite their original disqualification.

The Lions participated in the Challenge Cup, while the Bulls, Sharks, and Stormers were engaged in the Champions Cup.

The Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, who aren’t in the URC right now, were also allowed to participate in the second-tier competition.

Criticism of the competition structure

Without a question, the Champions Cup has lost appeal in recent years, with the format receiving especially harsh criticism.

Before the South Africans joined, the organizers had begun tinkering with it after the impact of Covid. However, they changed it again before this season.

“I find this new formula to be garbage, therefore I’m not enthusiastic. The invitation of South Africa to this championship is absurd, as former France head coach Saint-Andre stated to RMC Sport.

After witnessing South Africa win their fourth world title in October, the former Montpellier and Sale Sharks manager believes that Europe is ‘supporting’ the country on the international front.

Despite the fact that they had participated in eight World Cups and won four of them, he declared, “We are going to help them to be world champions again.”

“The Top 14 players already have extremely demanding schedules, and traveling to South Africa to play is an amazing experience.”

“You’re going to play the Bulls in Pretoria at an elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level. Instead of arriving a week in advance as is normally required to be competitive, you come 48 hours in advance.

Carbon emissions

Saint-Andre is similarly concerned about the additional travel, which may have negative effects on the environment and raise costs.

Next, we discuss global warming. I think it is ridiculous to have welcomed South Africa. We had fantastic teams and a really well-run European Cup,” the 56-year-old continued.

We are still attempting to assist South Africa there. We renamed the tournament, but the truth is that South Africa doesn’t add much to it when you include in travel expenses.

“This is a total aberration in my opinion!”

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