South African rugby benefits from the Stormers and Sharks making the last eight at the first attempt, a second box showing their most recent air mile total ought to be placed in the corner of the TV screen.
The 2022–2023 Champions Cup to be logistically difficult would be an understatement of the year. To prepare for their upcoming match against Exeter, they must once more pack their bags and move north.
Even Tom Cruise’s Maverick would be pleading for more time in the Top Gun hangar given the same timetable. The approaching Easter weekend adds another layer of difficulty.
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Not only were the Stormers’ opponents unknown until Sunday afternoon, but the placing of the quarterfinals and the last 16—along with millions of tourists—makes life difficult for fans in Europe Champions Cup as well.
Even if they had the free time, it would be impractical to support their team because of the exorbitant costs and difficult hoop-jumping.
It all comes together to create a situation that someone, somewhere, ought to have seen coming. Thankfully, there won’t be a conflict with Easter next year, although the round of 16 and quarterfinals will still be scheduled close together.
Why? An event that was once proudly fan-centric is in danger of becoming one that primarily benefits travel agencies and broadcasters.
This is a terrible shame and another another indication of the times. Rugby is evolving, thus the product must be at its best. In that regard, the South African teams are undoubtedly bringing in more talent and maintaining the.
Everyone else on the field on alert. In this competition last season, Quins had to go as far as the south of France. They’ve now been to Durban and Cape Town, where they came in second each time.
South African sides to play in Europe Champions Cup
In fact, no foreign team has triumphed in eight efforts on South African territory this year. But the true test of the South’s quality is about to come. Even though the Sharks defeated Munster by 50 points at home on Saturday,
They will need to perform at a much higher level to defeat Toulouse in Toulouse. All eight of the last-16 matches saw the host team advance, as opposed to only four when the sudden-death system was first used two seasons ago.
Hence, in the later stages of the Champions Cup, every victory on the road should be celebrated. The unchangeable law is that subsequent events are significantly influenced by pool standings, as the two South African sides have already learned.
Unbeaten in the league this season, Leinster and La Rochelle are possibly the last places in Europe where rivals would want to travel.
They may have only poked the La Rochelle beast, which makes Gloucester’s valiant stand on the Atlantic coast on Saturday all the more admirable.
As the England prop Mako Vunipola said, the Saracens visitors this coming Sunday expect a significantly improved home performance when they visit the Stade Marcel-Deflandre.
How many Leicester supporters would risk their homes on their side performing significantly better than England did at the Aviva Stadium last month if it came down to it?
Leinster vs. Toulouse and La Rochelle vs. Exeter in the semifinals would not come as a complete surprise if Ireland center Garry Ringrose were to be available once more, with the South African teams having been eliminated from contention.
That would likely result in a slew of judgments about them not quite being at the necessary level just yet, some of which might be a little patronizing.
But keep in mind that within the previous five seasons, Wiaan Liebenberg, Dillyn Leyds, Cheslin Kolbe, Rynhardt Elstadt, Jacques Vermeulen, Vincent Koch, Brad Barritt, and Schalk Burger all received Champions Cup winners’ medals.
Go back through the records, and you’ll find that 26 South Africans—just two fewer than New Zealand and Australia put together—have reached the European final heights over the years.
At this point, it is reasonable to start speculating about how the quarterfinal roster for this year would have looked without the frequent flyer disadvantage, the economic and political reality of their nation, and the financing gap with some of their northern rivals.
This season, South African athletes are more likely to raise the bar in Europe simply because they may do it in their home nations’ official garb.