South African rugby have announced a complete change to their contracting system in order to try and prevent the loss of talented players.
A large number of players will be taken into succession next year where they will be ranked by position. The initiative will see the next generation of talent brought into the succession to widen the pool.
Those who play their rugby in the country will receive top up payments from their provinces, funded by SA Rugby.
This also has seen them scrap the 30-cap rule for overseas based players, which meant that in order to turn out for the Boks while playing abroad you must already have 30+ caps for the country.
Director of rugby at SA Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, explained that this has been a long time coming.
“We have been agonising over how to keep players in the country since the game went professional more than 20 years ago and the bottom line is that the rand is too weak and the economy of South African rugby too small to compete,” he said.
SA Rugby has also written to all the leading foreign clubs and leagues where their players head to and have informed them that they will be enforcing the requirements of World Rugby’s Regulation 9.
Regulation 9 prescribes when and how frequently club players must be released for international duty and Erasmus went on to talk about the financial benefits this strategy will have while stating the flaws in the old one.
“A South African player can earn more from a two-month contract in Japan than he can if he were to win the World Cup with the Springboks this year. That’s the reality we have to face up to,” he said.
“In recent years we have focused on trying to retain a small number of high-profile players. But it has been a small group and many of those players end up leaving anyway. Last season those contracted players only appeared for 38 percent of their available time,” he added.
He went on to speak about how in this structure as many as 75 players could be involved in oppose to the small pool of players involved before.
“Once we have done our work, the new strategy could see as many as 75 players in Springbok succession planning and being financially rewarded for it. We had to disrupt the model,” he said.
Erasmus then went into the details of the new system involving overseas clubs.
“We have told the overseas clubs that we will be enforcing Regulation 9 and will be requiring our players for up to 14 weeks of the year. If the clubs don’t like that then they have the option of not signing the player,” he said.
He moved onto the biggest advantages of changing things up next.
“The only solution that would keep everyone happy would be if we had enough money to pay the players we wanted to keep as much as they wanted to receive – but that’s not the world we live in,” he said.
Aside from the financial difficulties the reality is that SA Rugby want players who are dedicated enough and passionate enough to abide by the new rules and put on the green jersey.
“We’ve got to deal with the practical realities and stay focused on our objective, which is to field the best available 23 players who really want to play for the Springboks and who are prepared to make sacrifices whether they are playing here or overseas,” said Erasmus.
“We only have a limited budget to do that, but we have many players who have the potential to become Springboks. This way, we can give them that message in a practical way. They will know that there is a future for them with the Springboks and that they can move up the succession ladder if their play merits it,” he added.
He finished by discussing how this will give the players more hunger to play.
“This way we incentivise and encourage a broader group, subsidize the franchises by giving a larger number of players additional income and put in place proper succession planning,” he said.
The new system is great in theory and it will certainly change the face of South African rugby, and who knows if it works well, we could see more countries apply similar structures.Embed from Getty Images
Former Springbok coach Jake White has applauded the new system making the following comments in his column ‘All About Rugby’
“This should have been done a long time ago. If we had taken a stand on Regulation 9 when our players first started going overseas, European clubs would quickly have realised that signing South Africans is risky business,”
“We should never have allowed a situation where players with 30 or more caps could go overseas and still be regulars for the Boks. Running out for the Springboks and wearing that jersey should always be the pinnacle of any South African player’s career. But it’s like a parent that lets their child cross the line for a while and is now putting their foot down – better late than never!
“There’s no club in the world that wants to sign a player knowing that he could be missing at important parts of the season. What’s going to happen now is that those European clubs are going to think twice about signing SA players because they could be pulled out of the squad every time there’s a national team selection. And the spin-off from that is you’re going to get more talent staying in South Africa and developing the next generation of players.
“However, to get this right, it’s crucial that SA Rugby doesn’t allow certain players to occasionally excuse themselves from Tests without retiring from international
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.