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Sharks coach calls for return to provincial S12 teams
Sydney
March 17, 2000

South Africa needs to return to its original system of provincial Super 12 teams to arrest its alarming lack of form in this year's series claims Sharks coach Hugh Reece-Edwards.

The complex system of cobbling together up to four rival provinces to form regional Super 12 teams with nondescript names Sharks, Cats, Stormers and Bulls has borne little success for South African rugby.

Since the system was introduced in 1997, no South African side has reached the Super 12 final, with only the Sharks (1997, 98) and Stormers (1999) reaching the semis.

There are mutterings in South Africa blaming national coach Nick Mallett for the lack of results, but Reece-Edwards, from the powerful Natal province, said the responsibility lay with the system.

"Natal has always been anti the region system, I don't think it has anything to do with Nick Mallett," he said as the Sharks prepare for Saturday night's Super 12 match against New South Wales here.

"In the regions, there's always been in house fighting with the sides that make up the region.

"Looking at the history of the tournament, when we came in as individual sides, we fared much better than under the regional system."

Reece-Edwards said it was much simpler when the top four provinces could draft the best players from other provinces to ensure South Africa's best players were in the Super 12 and in the eyes of the national selectors.

"You'll still get the top four provinces without the heckling from the other regions," he said.

"We believe we should go back to the top four and it also makes the Currie Cup stronger."

Reece-Edwards also said the SARFU should look at contracting its players along the same lines as New Zealand to ensure players don't move between provinces with regularity and there is more uniform direction between the provincial and national teams.

He was not optimistic of any change taking place.

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