Brits must play loose forward

Super Rugby CEO Greg Peters says there will be major consequences if strict conditions around the Stormers’ controversial call-up of Schalk Brits are not adhered to.

New Zealand rugby writer Mark Hinton spoke to Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters, who confirmed for Fairfax Media that assurances had been sought and received from the Stormers that they would only play Brits at loose forward, and that any move contrary to the spirit of the agreement would meet with serious consequences.

‘We have written undertakings from their CEO, and have written to them stating that these are the conditions with which we’re granting it. If they were not to adhere to these conditions we would certainly be taking it up with them,’ Peters told stuff.co.nz.

The Crusaders have not been happy that the Stormers were allowed to bring in a player of Brits’ standing for a game like this. If Brits were to find his way into his specialist hooker position at a crucial stage of the match, then you could imagine the Crusaders would be even more angered.

However Peters repeated his assertion that the South Africans could face major repercussions if they strayed outside the terms of the dispensation.

‘We would refer on to a judicial officer to make that decision,’ said Peters of any sanctions that could arise.

It’s understood Sanzar penalties for such a breach could range from a fine to default of the match.

‘We’re taking their CEO and their team at their word that they will adhere to these conditions,’ added the Sydney-based Peters. ‘Current regulations are that for a player to be eligible for finals matches he must have played or been a substitute for no fewer than four regular season games.’

But Sanzar retains the right to grant dispensations when no suitable players are available within squads and had done so for a handful of cases prior to Brits, the most notable being Frederic Michalak for the Sharks. Peters conceded that the eligibility regulation would come under the microscope at season’s end.

‘It’s entirely likely we might put some added parameters around it,’ added Peters. ‘We’re working with a rule that’s been around for a number of years now, and it just happens to have got a bit more focus this year. Now’s the time to have a look at it.’

However he emphasised that in the case of Brits it was not Sanzar’s job to weigh the merits of the player brought in to cover for injuries.

‘We don’t believe we should get into the subjective argument about who they’re applying for,’ said Peters. ‘It’s about whether they have a need and then declaring the player eligible if we satisfy ourselves there are enough injuries in that position.’