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VIDEO: URC bosses keeping a keen eye on SARU v MyPlayers stand-off

United Rugby Championship bosses are keeping a close watch over developments in South Africa, where negotiations over ‘player rest periods’ are at a critical stage.

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URC Chief Executive Martin Anayi admitted he is “aware” of the developments in the Republic, but they are opting to remain on the ‘sideline’ of the ‘horse trading’ – as the parties search for compromises and concessions in what is a prickly poser.

The South African Rugby Football Union and SAREO face a dilemma, after the arbitration verdict significantly favoured the players’ union, MyPlayers.

The arbitrator ruled that #ALL provincial players must rest for an uninterrupted eight-week period once every 12 months.

Not only does the ruling apply to all players, it must happen at the same time.

The ruling impacts the Currie Cup competition – scheduled to take place from July to the end of September.

In recent years July and August were reserved as the annual rest period for all the provincial players.

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The key is that if SARU goes ahead with the Currie Cup in the current slot, the national body and SAREO must then find an alternative ‘two-month rest period’ for the players.

That could impact the start of the next URC season – scheduled to get underway on September 20.

“I haven’t read that report yet,” Anayi told a media round table, ahead of the URC quarterfinals this coming weekend.

“People have sent me links to it [the report].

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“However, it is difficult for me to comment in full.

“It – the eight-week mandatory rest – is something our other unions are used to.

“I would need to talk to SARU before I can answer that properly,” the URC boss added,

According to the unions’ agreement with the URC, teams are not allowed to rest players during the URC season – unless it clashes with international matches.

“For that reason, we don’t play across international windows,” he said, adding: “There is an understanding that – with player management protocols in place – our teams and unions will put the best possible teams out every weekend.

“It is as important to SARU as it is to other unions to see performances throughout the competition.”

He admitted that the Currie Cup remains an important competition for everybody in South Africa.

(WATCH as URC CEO Martin Anayi talks about the ongoing talks between MyPlayers and SARU over finding a two-month resting period for the players and how it impacts their participation in Europe….)

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* Meanwhile, The URC boss, Anayi, admitted the ‘audience numbers’ suggest South Africans have bought into the URC more than the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.

The two elite Europe tournaments include teams from three major leagues – the URC, England’s Premiership and France’s Top 14.

“We have noticed that South Africans have latched onto the URC ahead of the Champions Cup in terms of audience numbers and match day attendances,” Anayi told @rugby365com, adding: “That may be due to the success the country has already attained in the URC.

“The Stormers won in Year One against the Bulls [in the Final] in Cape Town the first year, where they beat fellow South African team the Bulls in the final, and then making the Final again last year – where Munster beat them.

“That success the South African teams had transferred across from Super Rugby drove the interest.

“I am also on the board of the EPCR [Champions & Challenge Cups].

“The way the EPCR is set up, is that the three leagues [URC, Premiership & Top 14] co-own that as shareholders.

“It is in our interest to sell it and ensure that competition is strong as well.

“There is a bit of a job to do in South Africa, by way of education about what the two competitions are.

You never had that in Super Rugby [the commitment to two competitions].

“Hopefully the Sharks winning the Challenge Cup [and getting promoted to the Champions Cup] will give it a bit more of a push.

“The South African teams have become a lot more competitive in Europe, which is to be expected as they are getting used to it. It is new to them to play in three competitions – because they have the Currie Cup as well.

“There will be a greater awareness in South Africa of EPCR in time.”

The URC boss said SA will become full shareholders in the EPCR next June.

“There is a pathway they are on,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “There is no reason to believe they won’t become full partners in June 2025.

“South Africa is effectively treated as a full partner already.

“South Africa is not treated any differently than any of our shareholder teams.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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