VIDEO: 'We can't bat in that league anymore'
WATCH as Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus unpack the reasons for the recent contract restructuring of South African players.
Erasmus, in his first media briefing for 2019, said the need to overhaul the contracting systems is the result of the worsening exchange rate and South Africa’s inability to compete with cash-flush clubs in Europe and Japan.
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It was announced recently that ‘dozens’ of home-based players will be taken into Springbok succession planning next year, as part of a radical new contracting strategy.
Players will be ranked by position and those who are plying their trade in South Africa will receive top-up payments from their provinces – funded by SA Rugby.
Going hand-in-hand with the policy is the intention to formally scrap the 30-cap rule for overseas-based players.
Erasmus, in explaining the extreme overhaul, made it clear that it is because succession planning is something that has been lacking in South Africa.
“You are not sure how many players you will lose at the end of this year,” said Erasmus, who is also the Director of Rugby at SA Rugby.
“We are struggling with a massive exchange rate and clubs on the other side who don’t always have a business model, has a rich owner with a lot of money.
“He can spend that money, whether the player is worth it or.
“If we compete with that all the time, we will exhaust our budget.
“For us, succession planning on this side would be impossible.”
He said the biggest challenge is to try and keep the marquee players, the big name players, in South Africa.
“We just can’t bat in that area anymore,” the Bok coach said, adding: “Those guys just have too much money.
“The more we talk around that, the more we paint ourselves into a corner.
“We have decided to spread our money through more players.”
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He explained that if a star player leaves, his money becomes available and they will then start pumping it into the bottom of the system.
“If that big player accepts the smaller offer we give him now, we might have five fewer guys we sign at the bottom.
“It depends on how many of our big-name players we lose [after the World Cup].”
He confirmed that he and the national selectors will be involved in drawing up the ranking list for the ‘Player of national interest’ that will form part of the new contracting model.
Erasmus said the ‘ranking system’ can change on a weekly basis, but felt that it shouldn’t change radically from No.1 to No.3 in each position.
He also explained that his emphasis on Regulation 9 is to ensure that clubs and players are aware they will enforce it more strictly and they have time to make adjustments on their side.
“We can’t pay people at that level [of salaries], so just know that from 2020 we will do that [enforce Regulation 9].
“We are being proactive and are forewarning the players and clubs so they can make a call on whether they want to sign players and whether those players still want to play for South Africa.
“It is not a case of playing hardball.
“We are paying players in the league [salary level] of French and Premiership clubs, which we can’t afford.
“That is irresponsible and we can’t afford it. We are giving players false hope and giving them crazy money.”
By Jan de Koning