DURBAN – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber dodged the bullet of making a comment on the Bulls’ demise in Treviso but he did stress that South African teams have plenty of adapting to do when they join the PRO 14 teams in the United Rugby Championship, which kicks off in September.
Speaking from the Boks’ base in Bloemfontein, Nienaber said it would be unfair for him to comment on the Bulls because he was not a party to their preparations or plans.
“What I can say is that the United Rugby Championship is going to be a very beneficial competition for our teams,” Nienaber said. “It is very different to what we are used to — you have to adapt week in week out to playing teams from different countries — the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian teams all play differently and even in each of those countries, the teams vary their tactics.”
Nienaber says the fresh challenges posed to South African players is why SA Rugby worked so hard to get the four Super Rugby teams into the northern hemisphere.
“It is a very good challenge for our teams in that they have to adapt to different coaches, conditions and playing surfaces from week to week, and it is why we are pleased from a national point of view that we are in this Championship.
“Our teams know each other so well so it is really good that we are going to be kept on our toes by playing new opposition,” Nienaber added.
Regarding the Bulls and their 35-8 embarrassment, Nienaber did touch on some mitigating circumstances.
“When I was with Munster (assisting Rassie Erasmus there in 2016 and 2017) it was always a very tough battle when we visited Treviso — we had some guys break legs there. If you go back in history, they have shocked some big teams. They are a proud side and we must understand that this final was the biggest game in the history of Treviso. Playing in a final at home, with fans allowed back in, was a massive occasion for them.”