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.
“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
Scottish Star Forced Into Early Retirement
One of Scotland’s finest players has been forced to retire from the game due to concussion
The 29-year-old was advised to quit the sport on medical grounds following a concussion which he picked up almost a year ago while playing for the Premiership outfit.
However, Denton has admitted that he was actually relieved when he found out the news as it was a long time coming.
“My actual reaction at the time my neurologist told me it was no longer a good idea to play rugby… to be honest there was a bit of relief. This had been building up inside of me for four to five months. I knew there was a strong possibility that this moment (when I had to retire) was coming. By the time I got to it, I had been through all the emotional highs and lows, so I was prepared for it,” he said.
Although it was a relief Denton also confirmed that it is a blow as he felt like he was getting back to his best and thanked everyone that has helped him along his journey.
“Of course, it is devastating that my rugby career is ending. After a few years where I had a series of injuries, I had got myself back into a position where I felt, physically and mentally, that I could play the best rugby of my career. I’m incredibly fortunate. Scottish Rugby have helped me, particularly over the last few months. They have been awesome. I’ve spent a lot of time with (Scottish Rugby ambassador) Al Kellock, (chairman) Colin Grassie and (chief operating officer) Dominic McKay and they have helped me hugely, thinking about the transition from being a player to what happens next,” he added.
He also already has plans for the future and unlike many who leave the playing field, he does not want a position back in rugby as he would like to head into corporate business.
“The people they have put me in front of (from commerce and industry) has been great. I want to get into the corporate world. Coaching, as a career, was never something that appealed to me. I’m really excited for the next steps in my life,” he finished.
“We’re really disappointed that someone who still had a lot to offer the game both at club level and for Scotland hasn’t been able to do that, but our first thoughts are with his health and his life beyond rugby and it seems to be the right decision to retire. We were hoping that taking some time out of the game would mean he would be available for selection in our world cup training squad and when that didn’t happen we were hopeful he’d be back for next season, but again that’s not happened. We’re going to miss him with Scotland. He played very well last summer after being involved in the Six Nations, playing really well in that game against Argentina, and getting back to the form he was in at the last world cup. As coaches we really enjoyed working with Dave over the years and we wish him all the best in life after rugby,” he said.
Denton leaves the game with a total of 42 international caps to his name and will be fondly remembered for several explosive games in a Scottish jersey.
Williams and Priestland Defend Biggar
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar has come in for a lot of scrutiny of late but now some of the people that know him best have come to his defence
Wales out-half Dan Biggar has been criticised of late by many fans, but fellow Welshmen JJ Williams and Rhys Priestland have come out to stand up for him while talking to RugbyPass.
Williams, who is Biggar’s current coach at Northampton Saints, believes that Biggar is not only deserving of the Wales No 10 jersey but that he is the best player in the world when it comes to knock-out rugby.
“If you need someone to stay on task, to make sure that they keep their nerve to run a game down, or close a game out in knockout rugby, there is no better player in the world. He’s mentally as tough as hell. I have often said I’d hate to see an argument between him and TJ Perenara. They are two of the most bloody-minded people I’ve ever worked with. If you want to go into battle with anyone, it’s Dan Biggar. He’s an absolute trooper,” he said.
Williams has previously coached the Super Rugby side the Hurricanes, where he worked with Beauden Barrett so the praise will come as a huge boost for Biggar.
Biggar has become Wales’ first-choice fly-half following Gareth Anscombe’s ACL injury in a World Cup warm-up game against England last month and Williams was impressed by how he dealt with being thrown into that match.
“The response he put in against England, after he had criticism, well I thought it was superb. That summed up, in a nutshell, what Dan Biggar can do and who he is as a bloke,” he added.
As well as Williams coming to Biggar’s defence, fellow Welsh No 10 Priestland is full of praise for the Northampton Saint and can’t understand the criticism.
“Look, Dan’s a great competitor, a fantastic kicker and unbelievable under the high ball. I probably see more of him playing for Wales now and whenever he has come on for Anscombe he has had a positive impact. I got better coming across the bridge (to play in the Premiership) and I’m sure he’s the same. It’s a weird one. When Anscombe was playing, there were people asking for him to start, and now Dan is starting they are asking for someone else,” he said.
Whatever people believe it is clear that Biggar’s peers hold him in high regard and believe he could be a vital part to any Welsh success.
Biggar and co have had a frustrating time during their warm-up games with three losses from four games, but will look to turn a corner over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for their opening World Cup match against Georgia on Monday September 23rd.
Brown Opens Up on England Omission
Mike Brown has given a snippet of how he feels after being omitted from the England Rugby World Cup squad and has made a couple of interesting comments on himself
England full-back Mike Brown has taken some time to discuss his omission from the England squad and where he ranks himself amongst the current crop of English players.
Despite multiple media reports claiming a bust-up with Ben Te’o while training in Italy cost both players their places, Brown has decided to keep his cards close to his chest for now.
“It’s important that the people close to me and who matter in my life, my family and my close friends, my team-mates, they know what happened. And for everyone else, the details will come out when the time is right… when the details come out people will know how everyone in that situation handled themselves. And I’ve got no regrets,” he said.
As with any player, Brown is disappointed but is determined to keep himself in the best shape possible in case he is called upon as back-up by Jones.
“His message to all of us players is ‘be ready because you never know what’s going to happen’… I think everyone who was in the 45 who isn’t in Japan is on standby, that’s my understanding. I was in the 45, I have no regrets about anything that happened through pre-season because I gave my all. I came into camp in the best shape of my career, felt fit, sharp, good. I put everything I could into training, I didn’t miss one second of training, even with niggles and things like that,” he added.
However, the let down of being left out of the travelling squad doesn’t appear to have knocked Brown’s confidence as he insists, he is still the best full-back that the country have.
“I still feel I’m the best English full-back, that’s not being arrogant. That’s just what I believe… look at the stats, look at my game, I am the best under the high ball. I’ve worked so hard on that, it’s one of my points of difference,” he continued.
Without him in the squad Brown feels as though the team will still be in the mix to win the Webb Ellis Cup, however, he is wary of other sides including some of the nation’s closest neighbours.
“It’s going to be a close World Cup, probably the closest ever. South Africa are looking good, New Zealand may not have played to their best but they will be different when they reach the World Cup. Then teams like Ireland and Wales, you never know because they are tough competitors who can turn it on on their day,” he finished.
Brown will be hoping to put the disappointment of being left out behind him as he prepares for the upcoming Premiership season with Harlequins. However, we will all be waiting for the day when he finally opens up about what really went on in that Treviso training camp and if that was what cost him his place on the plane.
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