SA Rugby will this year begin rolling out a contracting model that caps each union’s roster and salary bill, and asks all contracted professional players to commit to playing in South Africa for three years. The AOR team debates whether this will accelerate the exodus overseas or see players commit to staying in South Africa.
Tank Lanning – KEEP
There are always going to be leavers. A daily read of News24 will do that to you! So rugby becomes a mere conduit for that departure, hence the school–leavers jumping on the Montpellier train.
That is a different animal to the end-of-career pension-seekers and those wanting to broaden their horizons using their God-given rugby talent. Unions spending R10m on players under the age of 21 is not going to stop them, and that’s fine. Investing in a player just out of school is a risky business!
The move away from SA Rugby investing in a few marque players is a good one. One cannot be half-pregnant in the central-contracting game, and all it did was put pressure on the coach to select these players, no matter their form, as is the move to select overseas-based players (sadly). Farting against thunder is only fun the first few times.
The most innovative new initiative sees full-time contracted players having to commit to playing in South Africa for three years – four if chosen to represent the Boks.
A commitment, yes, but also clarity and certainty on their future. This instead of the current situation which sees players wondering if their contracts will be extended every October.
It’s not all beer and skittles overseas. New language. New home. New food. No school mates. No family. No Mummy to do the laundry. And more often than not, no sun!
We have our issues, but overall, playing rugby in SA is pretty damn fun!
And having coached two players who made their Super Rugby debuts this year, I can confirm that the desire to test oneself in Super Rugby, and then potentially play for the Boks, remains massive. This model speaks directly to the player we actually want to keep in SA.
Zelím Nel – CHASE
Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong but the only way this new contracting model could ever benefit SA Rugby is if the Top 14 and English Premiership became saturated with Saffas, thereby ‘protecting’ the remnant from lucrative overseas offers.
The short- to mid-term objective seems to be tying up European money with current talent to ensure that, in the future, emerging stars stick around for their share of a R60m salary cap.
Chasing players overseas is therefore inherent to the plan, and overseas they will go.
For a pro athlete, what is the downside of getting paid much more to live in a First World country and perform in a bigger market where your selection is based purely on your playing ability?
The best of every echelon from these shores will pack their bags: Springboks, veteran Super Rugby players and the most promising Junior Boks. Blue-chip school-leavers will also choose to skip the political circus of South African sport.
While this is sure to clog up the mentioned Euro competitions, there is a weakness to the plan that may not have been considered. Broadcasters are far wealthier than even rugby’s millionaire benefactors, and they have an insatiable appetite for content – this was a driving force in Super Rugby’s suicidal expansion.
The point: once the Top 14 and English Premiership are saturated with overseas talent, broadcasters will identify the queue of hopeful Saffas as an opportunity to boost their bouquet of channels with products such as a supercharged Rugby Pro D2, France’s second division.
And, thanks to the hatchet job the government has done on the rand over the past 20 years, local players will still earn far more playing in a European second division than they will at home.
There are already lots of reasons for SA players to head abroad. Capping the roster and their potential earnings at home widens the highway to the airport.
OK, you’ve read what they think, now let us know which way you’re leaning, or join the #BigDebate on Twitter!