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VIDEO: How Bulls 'jumped' the Currie Cup queue

VIDEO: The welfare of players almost derailed the oldest domestic competition in the world, a case that went to arbitration.

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However, at the Bulls, it was all systems go as player welfare has always been equivalent to their seasonal planning.

The Bulls have always kept to the original agreements and according to their Director of Rugby, Jake White, all their players have had their compulsory eight-week resting period.

They face Western Province in the opening round of the Currie Cup in Cape Town on July 7.

“The Currie Cup players are going well,” White told a media briefing ahead of the United Rugby Championship quarterfinal.

“We’ve rested 99.9 percent of the guys that need to rest for Currie Cup.

“We could kick off having rested all our players because that was the initial agreement.”

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A player like Sergeal Petersen, who was included on the bench against Benetton, has not had much playing time due to the agreement to rest players adequately.

“Sergeal was on his eight-week leave so he could play Currie Cup. That is part of why he hasn’t been around for a bit.

“He needed that eight-week leave which is part of the agreement,” White explained.

“He would’ve been in the mix, but his eight-week leave also cut him out of that role for a couple of months. Now he is back and fit and ready to go.

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“He must add value. He is one of the quickest guys in our team and he’s got the experience of winning the URC.”

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The arbitration occurred due to a stand-off between the players’ union, MyPlayers, and the South African Rugby Union.

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

There was an initial agreement that the unions 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.

The new deal – which is scheduled for final sign-off on Thursday – acknowledges that a compulsory, industry-wide eight-week shutdown is impossible to accommodate in a South African playing calendar that straddles the hemispheres (the international franchises play through the SA summer in the nine-month-long Untied Rugby Championship, while the Springbok Test season and domestic competitions are rooted in the SA winter).

The new deal instead provides for:

  • Structured, individualised eight-week rest periods for all players with formal notice periods when such breaks are to be taken;
  • Adoption of World Rugby player load guidelines which are in finalisation;
  • Maintenance of a strict, individual player load monitoring programme;
  • Broadened scope for the Joint Committee on Contracted Players’ Safety and Welfare and utilisation of the
  • Emergency Committee to ensure effective implementation of the new arrangements and;
  • Adjusted travel arrangements (business, premium economy and economy class flights) for URC/EPCR teams from 1 July 2025.

*The Bulls will announce their Currie Cup coaches after the completion of the URC.

For all the fixtures, CLICK HERE!

@rugby365com

In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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