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
Koroibete Praises Cheika After Award Win
Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete claimed the top prize at Australian Rugby’s yearly awards, but caused a little stir after praising former head coach Michael Cheika
Australian winger Marika Koroibete was awarded the John Eales medallist at the Australian Rugby awards last night and thanked former head coach Michael Cheika for helping him achieve the feat.
The award, which is handed to the country’s player of the year, was given to the electric winger last night after he saw of the likes of Samu Kerevi to be presented with the highest honour in the land.
However, the former Rugby League star, who switched codes after Cheika suggested the move, paid a heartfelt tribute to the coach.
“It’s such an honour to be named with all the great players who’ve won this medal before. I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting this. Michael Cheika was the one who spoke to me. He’s the one who moulded me to be here wearing this medal. He didn’t force me to play early. He took his time and encouraged me, gave me things six months by six months, and this year I’ve been working very hard with the (Melbourne) Rebels coaching staff, they’ve supported me as well,” he said.
Cheika brought the 27-year-old into the Wallabies camp in 2016, but waited almost a year to hand him his debut as he tried to blood him into his new surroundings.
However, during his tenure as manager and since his departure there have been a number of players who have criticised the coach, although Koroibete continued to heap praise on his former manager as he showed his gratitude.
“(Cheika) is such a great man, he mingled well with the boys. I like him as a coach. He’s honest with you. If there’s something you need to work on, he tells you straight. He doesn’t beat around the bush. Unfortunately, he’s not here anymore,” he added.
It is a big vote of confidence for Cheika, who is currently being linked with a position at French Top 14 giants Montpellier as he looks to get back into the game.
Elsewhere on the night, Kerevi wasn’t to be denied an award as he won Super Rugby Player of the Year, while youngster Jordan Petaia, who only made his debut for the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup in Japan received the accolade for Rookie of the Year.
Gatland Suspected Wales Player of Doping
Warren Gatland has been full of chat after leaving his post as Wales manager, but has made his most interesting statement yet since his departure
Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has admitted that he had suspicions that a player he used to coach while he was in charge of the national side was doping.
Speaking to Off the Ball, Gatland, who also discussed his comments regarding England in the lead up to the World Cup final, has claimed he had a notion that one of his former players was using performance enhancing drugs.
“You know I haven’t come across personally any players that I’ve coached from a Wales perspective that I would – well sorry, maybe one. Maybe one, now that I think about it,” he said.
When asked about where he had coached this player, he didn’t give a definite answer but made it pretty clear that it was a Welsh international, but he made it clear that he had no proof of the claim so he couldn’t be certain about it.
“He may have done, yeah. It’s probably a little bit unfair of me to say I had suspicions about one of them because I’ve got no evidence or anything like that. Because it’s kind of like just saying, ‘Is there a possibility?’… It was more like a couple of people making jokes sort of thing. And you go, ‘Oh is that…,” he added.
It was a pretty big statement from the new Chiefs coach, with former Ireland international Neil Francis writing last week that maybe people should put an asterisk beside South Africa’s World Cup win due to there being a strong possibility that players were doping in his opinion.
His claim was linked to the fact that Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi had been found to be using performance enhancing drugs earlier this year, after breaking onto the scene recently as well as studies done in the country.
However, Gatland’s suspicion will raise questions as to whether he was right and was this player an integral part of his time in charge, but for now we will just have to wonder who he is talking about.
Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over
Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph
Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier.
However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland.
“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said.
The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes.
Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa.
At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.
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