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South Africa scrap 30 Cap Rule in huge selection shake up

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Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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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 rugby, because that will make a mockery of this plan.”

International

Furlong signs contract extension with IRFU

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ireland and Leinster Rugby tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong has extended his IRFU contract up to the end of the 2021/22 season.

During his time with Leinster Rugby, Tadhg has made 113 appearances for Leinster, and has contributed to a Heineken Champions Cup in 2018 along with five Guinness PRO12/14 titles since his debut in November 2013.

Furlong made his Ireland debut against Wales in a warm-up fixture ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He has won 49 caps to date for Ireland and started all three Tests of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand and was last week named in the touring party for this summer’s series against South Africa.

Furlong commented, “Happy to sign on for one more year. There has been some tough days of late but I believe the squads we have in both Leinster and Ireland are able to compete for trophies in the future. I look forward to hopefully playing at a packed out RDS or Aviva Stadium in the months ahead.”

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “Tadhg was a long time out of the game but showed upon his return in January what a positive influence he can be for both Ireland and Leinster. He has grown as a senior voice in the Ireland squad and his recent performances reminded everyone why he is rated as one of the best tighthead’s in world rugby.”

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby

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6 Nations

Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.

Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014.  O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

O’Connell commented:

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:

“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”

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International

All Blacks announce new Captain

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks Press Release:

All Blacks loose forward and Chiefs Captain Sam Cane has been named as the new Captain of the All Blacks.

The news was announced on SKY Sport’s The Breakdown show tonight, with Cane succeeding Kieran Read who retired from the All Blacks after Rugby World Cup 2019.

A natural leader, 28-year-old Cane has played 68 Tests, including 48 starts, since making his debut against Ireland in 2012, aged just 20.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said he was delighted to name Cane as the new captain.

“Sam is an experienced All Black with eight years in the team now and is a ‘follow me’ type of leader and a very good thinker in the game. He has a natural ability to connect with everyone in the team and is straightforward and direct when he needs to be.

“There’s massive respect for Sam amongst the players and management, and he’s perfectly placed to lead the All Blacks into the future.”

Foster said while the All Blacks’ plans for this year were still being worked through due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an important role for the captain.

“We wanted to confirm Sam now because he’ll play a key role helping us plan for whatever the future looks like and will be working behind the scenes with the other leaders,” Foster said.

Cane said it was a “massive honour” to be given the captaincy.

“It’s a pretty exciting challenge really and as I’ve spent more time in the All Blacks and grown as a player, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being a leader in the team.

“The great thing about the All Blacks is that the leadership group is full of captains and experienced players already, so I’m just really looking forward to working closely with that group and doing my best to lead them and the rest of the squad.”

Cane has already captained the All Blacks on three occasions. He became the 67th Test captain and fifth youngest ever when he captained the team against Namibia at RWC2015 at the age of 23. He also captained the team against Italy in 2016 and against Argentina in Buenos Aires last year.

“My style as captain will be to not really change the way I do things. I’m just myself and will continue to be. I already work on building relationships, especially with the younger guys in the squad, and everyone else connected with the team, so that will continue,” Cane added.

“While we don’t know yet what the rest of the year looks like for the All Blacks, I’m looking forward to catching up with the coaches and other senior players as we firm up our plans.”

Mini biography – Sam Cane

Raised in the small rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, Sam Cane has had an exceptional career since breaking into professional rugby as a teenager. He made his provincial debut for Bay of Plenty in 2010 at just 18 years old and his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs the following year. In 2011, Cane was also part of the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side, was the New Zealand Rugby Age Grade Player of the Year and was also nominated for International Age Grade Player award. He helped the Chiefs to the first of their back-to-back Investec Super Rugby titles in 2012 before making his All Blacks debut in June that year aged 20. A devastating tackler and scavenger, he has continued to take his game to new levels in recent seasons. He was co-Captain of the Chiefs for four years taking sole charge this year and has played 116 games for the club. In 2018 Cane fractured his neck during a Test against South Africa and faced months of recovery post-surgery before making a much-anticipated return to the Chiefs in 2019, helping the team through to the Quarter Finals. A Rugby World Cup 2015 champion with the All Blacks, Cane was also part of the RWC2019 squad.

Samuel Jordan Cane

Born: 13 January 1992 in Rotorua
Physical: 1.89m, 106kg
Position: Loose forward
Province: Bay of Plenty
Investec Super Rugby team: Chiefs
Investec Super Rugby appearances: 116
All Blacks Debut: 16 June 2012, vs Ireland in Christchurch, aged 20.
All Blacks Tests: 68 (Three as Captain)
All Blacks Test Points: 65pts (13 tries)
All Black Number: 1113

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