Kings a haven for excess Bulls?
SPOTLIGHT: Officials in the Eastern Cape will be watching developments in Pretoria with a keen eye.
The departure of Johnny Kotze, who this week became the first player to invoke SA Rugby’s 21-day clause, is reportedly just the start of a ‘clean-out’ in Pretoria.
The Afrikaans daily Beeld newspaper reported that as many as 17 players could be heading for the exit door at Loftus Versfeld.
Those players, according to the report, that are no longer in demand include high-profile figures like captain Burger Odendaal, Ruan Steenkamp, Cornal Hendricks, Juandre Kruger and Andries Ferreira.
It is, according to Beeld, all part of new Director of Rugby Jake White’s plan to revive the struggling franchise – cutting the so-called ‘dead wood’.
It is believed the players have already been informed, via their agents, that they are now surplus to requirements.
However, according to the agreement announced by SA Rugby earlier this month, those who are looking to move must – before May 14 – find employment abroad.
No South African franchise can talk or negotiate with any players currently contracted to SA teams.
However, there is an intriguing rider.
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SA Rugby, the players union MyPlayers, the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation and the staff union Sports Employees’ Unite have decided that there could be – under certain circumstances – an exception to the 21-day rule.
If a franchise, like the Kings, can motivate that they are in need of the services of a specific player or players, that player may be allowed to transfer internally.
A committee – which include MyPlayers CEO Eugene Henning, SARPA board member Louis Von Zeuner, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux and SEU CEO Piet Heymans – will decide if the franchise’s need is ‘acute’ enough to ensure they can make an exception to the ‘external transfers only’ regulation.
The Kings – currently stuck in last place in Pro14’s Conference B – may be the one team that could benefit from the excess players at the Bulls – if and when rugby resumes.
The vast experience of players like Odendaal, Steenkamp, Hendricks, Kruger and Ferreira could be hugely beneficial to the Kings if and when rugby resumes.
The expectation is that rugby in South Africa won’t resume till October, although some franchise and coaches hope for an earlier start.
However, the Kings will certainly be able to make a plea for some assistance from teams, like the Bulls, to free up their excess players for Pro14 action.
Of course normal contract negotiations regulans apply when a player enters the 180 day (before his conctract expires) period.
Those players can negotiate internally, but not players whose contracts extend beyond 2020.