SA rugby ex­o­dus to gain speed


The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Ken Bor­land

Astag­ger­ing 90% of South African rugby play­ers are sign­ing a deal to play pro­fes­sional rugby over­seas within the next two years or are at least con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of a de­fin­i­tive sur­vey con­ducted by the play­ers’ union MyPlay­ers.

The sur­vey, which was con­ducted through in-per­son in­ter­views and on­line ques­tion­naires, took place in 2019 and only se­nior fran­chise play­ers, Spring­boks and Bl­itzboks were in­ter­viewed, while an on­line sur­vey was sent to all pro­fes­sional rugby play­ers in South Africa. The sur­vey was re­quested by the play­ers them­selves and 125 of them were sam­pled. The re­sults in­di­cated that nine out of 10 play­ers were look­ing to go over­seas and 87% of them would con­sider play­ing for their adopted coun­try if they be­came el­i­gi­ble.

The op­por­tu­nity to earn more money was cited as the big­gest driv­ing force for em­i­gra­tion by 51% of the “leavers”, with the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion (18%), ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures (10%), trans­for­ma­tion (9%) and more game time (8%) pal­ing into in­signif­i­cance as mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors.

One Su­per Rugby vet­eran re­vealed that he had earned more money play­ing for two years in France than he did in the seven pre­ced­ing years play­ing in South Africa.

But most play­ers in­ter­viewed also ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion that South African fran­chises gen­er­ally don’t of­fer con­tracts last­ing more than two years and that new deals were of­ten only of­fered at the last minute.

South African play­ers have also thrown their weight be­hind a pro­posal for a set four-year cy­cle for in­ter­na­tional rugby. This would of­fer fans some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery year with­out di­lut­ing ex­ist­ing prop­er­ties.

A ma­jor­ity of play­ers (77%) also wanted the Currie Cup to be re­vived as an elite tour­na­ment, with the added in­cen­tive of it be­ing a qual­i­fi­ca­tion path­way into Euro­pean club com­pe­ti­tions.

The re­turn of Su­per Rugby to a 14-team round-robin format was ap­proved by 84% of South African pro­fes­sion­als, while Chee­tahs and South­ern Kings play­ers have en­joyed play­ing in the Top 14,

Pic­ture: Getty Images

EX­O­DUS. Pro­fes­sional rugby play­ers in South Africa could fol­low in the foot­steps of South African-born CJ Stander who now plays for Ire­land.

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