Give SA players a tax break – Brits

Schalk Brits wants tax breaks for professional rugby players to be part of a solution to slow the exodus to more lucrative opportunities in the Northern Hemisphere.

“We will never be able to compete with the overseas contracts,” the Springbok hooker told Netwerk24. “But maybe there is a legitimate way to give tax relief to our players.”

Eben Etzebeth has been linked with a move to French giants Toulon after the 2019 Rugby World Cup on a deal that is expected to pay him in excess of €1m (R16m) per season. And the Sharks’ trio of Du Preez brothers, along with fellow Bok Jesse Kriel, are reportedly in line for juicy offers from English Premiership clubs.

Brits is aware that potential tax breaks would do little to persuade the likes of Etzebeth to stick around, but it’s the next tier of experienced players, who leave South Africa for less-enticing offers, that the journeyman hooker believes might choose to stay.

“We no longer have mentors in our rugby and it is a pity that so many of our players are playing overseas,” he said. “There are no more players in the middle level – you get the Springboks and then the young players who are taking their first steps in Super Rugby. The men who have to transfer the intellectual capital are overseas.”

Brits is walking proof of this – he’s got a good shot at winning the starting job at the Bulls at the age of 37.

“I only realized it later in my career, but in rugby terms you are still a laaitie at 24, and we want our players to take on Super Rugby at the age of 22, 23 or 24. It takes the experience of a few klaps and getting your head scrummed into your backside over the years to make you a hardened forward.”

These sentiments echo former Bulls head honcho, John Mitchell who, before trading Loftus Versfeld for Twickenham, said it was “a joke” to think that SA teams could contend for the Super Rugby title “with a few world-class and Super Rugby quality players”.

“We, as South African teams, simply don’t have squads that are of Super Rugby quality in its entirety,” Mitchell said. “Only when we start creating squads of Super Rugby quality overall will a South African team win the tournament. We’re creating a culture where we are putting young men in match situations they’re simply not ready for. It’s a reality and it talks on the scoreboard.”

“I always remember in 2005 how much I learned from the Cats in a short time,” added Brits. “Marius Hurter returned from Newcastle and I packed down between him and Os du Randt in the scrums. It was incredibly valuable.”

Part of the Bulls investment in Brits is based on the hooker sharing the experience of an 18-season career, including a decade at Saracens, with a young team.

“I wish I had gone abroad earlier. My game developed faster at some levels in the Northern Hemisphere. My lineout and scrum work improved a lot there. Take nothing away from Super Rugby, but the focus is much less on the set phases (than up north).”

— Staff Writer

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer

Let's chat

  • Barry

    The move abroad is not restricted to rugby by any means, take for example our declining role of Doctors! Now there’s a good cause for tax breaks – the answer lies in fixing the problems, not incentivizing people to overlook them!

    A little contradictory in parts – on the one hand suggesting that tax breaks would help to keep players in the country and then in the final paragraph, saying that he wished he’d left earlier??

    • Sharky

      Yeah, Brits is one hell of a player but thank God he’s not a policy maker. Seems his wife (who’s a decent lawyer) is the brains of that family.

      • nezo

        i fully agree. thank God.

  • Riaan Lerm

    pay your tax… he earn more in 1 year.. that I in 40 years…
    After rugby career he is bot Disabled. He can still work…

  • Sharky

    If you’re going to give rugby players tax breaks to prevent them leaving then what about doctors, engineers, accountants, scientists, lawyers, teachers, pilots etc. Hell, what about cricketers! In the end you will have to give all of the professionals and high-earners tax breaks leaving no-one but the poor pay for the running of the country (or the politicians lifestyles). Yeah, that ain’t gonna work!

    Interesting how we have an exodus of all sorts of professions… but not politicians. It seems that life good in SA for politicians.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Shouldn’t he be talking about pension benefits instead of tax breaks ?? Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      They say old bowlers never die, they just lose their balls!

  • Nick

    Sharky, you are so right. Spot on!….Ja, all we ever want to do is let high earners pay no tax! [Joke!] Ag shame, what can we do to help them?

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