Expect changes when rugby resumes, former Bok stars predict

Former Springbok captain John Smit believes rugby will need to be drastically streamlined once it resumes after the Covid-19 pandemic, while his fellow World Cup winner Joel Stransky is hoping for a quicker, less contact dominated game when action gets underway again. The two World Cup winners were handing out food parcels in Lonehill for the One Cup of Pap charitable initiative when they spoke to The Citizen about what they were hoping for once rugby was allowed to take place again. Smit's focus was on the effects of the suspension of play and how rugby organisations were going to...
Former Springbok captain John Smit believes rugby will need to be drastically streamlined once it resumes after the Covid-19 pandemic, while his fellow World Cup winner Joel Stransky is hoping for a quicker, less contact dominated game when action gets underway again.

The two World Cup winners were handing out food parcels in Lonehill for the One Cup of Pap charitable initiative when they spoke to The Citizen about what they were hoping for once rugby was allowed to take place again.

Smit's focus was on the effects of the suspension of play and how rugby organisations were going to have to adjust not just their schedules but also the very structure of the game in their respective countries in order to ameliorate the tough financial conditions that would be prevalent.

"Covid-19 has been a massive storm that has had a massive impact on our game, showing us how we have taken certain things for granted," said Smit, a former CEO of the Sharks.

"I think it's important to remember that rugby is largely a product of the players and wherever the sport is not streamlined enough, guys are going to have to make cuts.

"Decisions are going to have to be made about not just the survival of those in the game at the moment. Where the game is running fat, where most of the money is going, that's where there have to be cuts and I think we all know where those places are," he added cryptically.

Former flyhalf Stransky wanted to see a pacier game in which there would be more exciting backline play.

"I don't think the game will change so much although there will be more screening and testing, and we will be more aware of the risks, but there will still be running, scrumming and tackling," Stransky said.

"I would just like to see the space on the field used more. Rugby has become very predictable with defensive structures so well organised. The players are now very physical and tend to just bash it up.

"There is not too much backline excitement anymore. Players like Cheslin Kolbe at the World Cup, stepping and beating players, using the space, are few and far between. Normally the backs just kick the ball through now and hope for a mistake."

The 1995 World Cup drop goal hero hoped being deprived of live rugby would encourage people to go back to the stadiums when the action resumed.

Stransky said he counted himself now amongst the people who used to just watch on television (when not broadcasting) but he would now be taking the family to games.

"There's still going to be massive drama but every sport is in the same boat and we're no different to other industries. We have all taken a knock," Stransky said.

"It could take years to bounce back but as soon as there is sport to watch live then hopefully people will be more inclined to go to the stadiums. I know I will be taking the family once rugby is back."

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