Boks’ Japanese honeymoons are over
The contracted Springboks’ Japanese honeymoons seem to be a thing of the past.
None of the Boks who had joint contracts with the SA Rugby Union (Saru) and their unions for the past 12 months will play in this year’s Currie Cup.
City Press’ sister paper, Rapport, has confirmed that Saru has included a clause in its contracts stipulating that players have to rest in October this year.
The Boks’ last Rugby Championship test is on October 8 in Durban against the All Blacks, after which contracted players must rest for two weeks before being allowed to start training again for November’s European tour.
The Barbarians at Twickenham on November 5 will be the team’s first opponents on tour.
“The clause was introduced so that we can ensure the team is better managed,” said an informed source.
No one is prepared to say it openly, but the large number of South African players injured in Japan or after visits there because of too much rugby has forced Saru to take steps.
“Since the contracted Boks must rest in October and then tour Europe in November, it leaves them no opportunity to play in Japan, because players can’t report there only in December.
“Saru pays the salaries of up to 70% of our top players these days, and they are well paid. There may be a few exceptions who may be allowed to play in the Currie Cup or in Japan, such as Handré Pollard, who had little playing time because of injuries.”
Some of the country’s leading contracted Springboks were allowed to play in Japan after the World Cup in 2015, as Saru wanted to ensure they signed joint contracts and did not accept overseas offers. Rapport has learnt that one of the top Boks had the option of a contract of R12 million per year in France, and Saru could contract him only through the Japanese concession.
However, Saru now wants to prevent the contracted Springboks from playing too much rugby and returning from Japan with injuries.
Another informed source told Rapport that Ian McIntosh and Peter Jooste, who were national selectors in the Jake White and Heyneke Meyer eras, received letters from Saru confirming the selection committee was going to change.
An announcement is expected shortly about the new committee, as soon as Saru has asked its unions to nominate suitable candidates.