SYDNEY // The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief John O'Neill has called for a later start to next season's Super 14 after the South African flanker Juan Smith collapsed with heat exhaustion at the weekend. Smith was taken to a Brisbane hospital on Sunday night and placed on a saline drip after he succumbed to heat stress in the dressing room following the Cheetahs' 22-3 loss to Australia's Queensland Reds.
The game was played in temperatures exceeding 32 degrees Celsius and humidity of 66 per cent and both teams struggled to cope with the extreme conditions. Afternoon games are rare in Super 14 but O'Neill said the incident highlighted the need to review the timing of the competition. The tournament normally starts in mid-February, during the harsh Australian summer, but Mr O'Neill said he would be pushing for a later start next season when the SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) board met in Dubai this week.
"Personally, I think we start Super rugby too early and that's one of the things on the agenda for the SANZAR board meeting," Mr O'Neill said. "Late February, early March in Brisbane is a very humid, hot place. "When it starts to get a bit cooler and off the beach, then you are into rugby mode." *Reuters