Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach insists his franchise is not trying to steal SA’s young talent.
On Friday, Business Day reported that a letter from the Crusaders Academy had been circulated to South Africa’s schools containing information about a ‘nationwide talent identification programme’. The first step in this process was said to be an all-expenses-paid training camp for 60 U16 players in Pretoria from 5-10 July.
Saru responded by sending a letter to the NZRU to demand it intervene.
However, Riach told The Press newspaper that there wasn’t anything sinister about the Crusaders’ involvement in a private sporting academy in Centurion, near Pretoria.
‘This is wrong, they have completely got the wrong end of the stick. To say we are intending to pinch their players is completely untrue.’
Riach said the Crusaders had entered into a commercial licensing agreement with the academy which also involves sports such as golf, swimming and football.
He acknowledged that when the Crusaders toured SA in the future some members of the team would visit the set-up. The franchise would benefit financially from the licensing agreement.
‘The vast majority of players that attend the academy will be from South Africa,’ he said. ‘It’s not about us pinching any of their players to play for the Crusaders at all.’