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REVEALED: Details behind players' stand-off with SARU

UPDATE: Broken promises and an about-turn are at the centre of an arbitration hearing between the national players’ union, MyPlayers, and the South African Rugby Union.


Weekend media reports suggested that the country’s premier domestic competition, the Currie Cup, could be called off if MyPlayers win their arbitration case.

However, @rugby365com can reveal that the players remain committed to playing in the Currie Cup, despite the now very public stand-off.

This website obtained a copy of the letter sent out by MyPlayers to their members on Friday, March 15.

MyPlayers quotes

In the letter, the players’ union confirms that the matter has been “referred for formal arbitration”.

At the heart of the dispute is an insistence by SARU and SAREO (the employers’ organisation) that players should be allowed to play for periods longer than 12 months.


Provision should be made in the settlement agreement for players to play effectively for up to 20 months without rest,” the MyPlayers letter said.

The dispute came after SARU decided to move the Currie Cup – which had overlapped with the United Rugby Championship for the last couple of years – to a new window between July and September.

In the past, July and August were reserved as the annual rest period for all the provincial players,” MyPlayers said in the letter to their members.

Playing the Currie Cup during the July to September period therefore creates player welfare challenges.”


There was an initial agreement that the union would be allowed to ‘rest’ players on an individual basis.

However, in a dramatic about-turn, SARU insisted on the inclusion of a provision that would allow players to play for up to 20 months without a break.

MyPlayers quote

“The practice of playing players for longer than 12 months without rest is nowhere applied in world rugby, nor supported by conditioning experts we consulted with and or in line with the draft World Rugby player load guidelines,” the letter stated.

“In addition, the South African player load increased significantly since the start of the URC in that players now have shorter annual rest periods, the amount of international provincial games per year increased by almost 38 percent, and national players load was increased by almost 15 percent while international travel increased with 300 percent and now conducted in economy class with limited direct route options.”

If MyPlayers win the arbitration case, then the Currie Cup would be moved back to an earlier window and risk losing a major sponsor for the tournament.

According to weekend media reports SARU officials claim that if MyPlayers are successful and the Currie Cup does not continue, many players could be unemployed.

“They [MyPlayers] keep listening to the top 30 to 50 players, but what about the rest?” one official told the Afrikaans weekly Rapport newspaper.

“If MyPlayers is successful and all players have to rest in an eight-week block at the same time, the Currie Cup cannot continue.”

MyPlayers are standing their ground and while they say the Currie Cup is “of utmost importance”, they put player welfare at a higher premium.

The negotiations started in November last year, but will now be decided by arbitration.



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