Former Springbok fly-half Joel Stransky says the South African Rugby Union should remove the Cheetahs and Southern Kings from Super Rugby.
South African rugby is in crisis after a disastrous 2016 season – their worst ever – and have slipped down to fifth on the World Rankings after losing seven of their 11 Tests, including historic defeats to Ireland, Argentina and Italy.
"In our worst nightmare, we could never have imagined it being this bad," Stransky told Radio Sport in New Zealand.
The 1995 World Cup winner laid the blame for South Africa's struggles at SARU's door, accusing the governing body of "amateur administration" and said the country can't sustain more than four Super Rugby franchises.
Stransky said a lack of crowd and financial support for the Cheetahs and Kings meant it wasn't feasible to sustain them, urging SARU to make a decision that would benefit the Springboks rather than individuals running the game.
Many critics have blamed the Boks' decline on the weak rand and exodus of top talent overseas, along with a strictly-enforced racial quota system.
But Stransky said an outdated infrastructure and poor administrators are more to blame and they need to understand they can't compete at international level while operating six Super Rugby franchises.
"They need to get their blindfolds off," he said.
"A lot of blame is placed on transformation and the rand making a lot of our players go overseas but there are other things happening. I do think we can put the cork back in the bottle. We need to have a good look at our infrastructure.
"We need to understand that we can't compete with six Super Rugby franchises. We would probably be at our best with four. And let's say to the players overseas, 'we will pay you more, come home'."