The continued player exodus is merely the evolution of the professional game.
In five years it won’t matter where a player is based. In five years time Super Rugby will probably be a Super 18 or a Super 20 and some of the best Northern Hemisphere players will add to the championship challenge of teams in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The game will become global through player migration long before the governing body at the IRB can agree a global season.
Professional clubs in Europe and businesses who own professional clubs in Japan will always be more powerful in terms of cash. It is like the English Premier League in soccer compared with the PSL.
I agree with the view that any national coach will favour a local player over an overseas based player in 50-50 selection calls, but any national coach who is allowed to choose his national player, regardless of where he is based, would be foolish to select an inferior local based player to what is overseas.
There should be no anger about any player who leaves. The player runs the risk that a better local based player emerges when it comes to national selection. But many players leave and become better players overseas. Culturally the experience is good and they also mature as people.
There is also no longer an ‘out of sight out of mind’ situation. In South Africa most of the Premiership matches are televised live, so too the European Cup matches. And the French Top 14 also gets good television exposure.
The player, through Internet and Blogs, is as much a presence regardless of whether he is playing out of London or out of Cape Town.
This week another healthy number of South African players signed to play in Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan. They should not be prejudiced for their decision.
The quicker everyone comes to terms with the demands of professional rugby and the nature of professionalism, the better for the player, the supporter and the rugby manager of the player.
The life span of a top rugby player once was 10 years. Most now don’t make it past five years at the top of their game. Allow the player to cash in when he can and also allow for a global view on a game that offers more than any insular indulgence.
Super Rugby would be a better tournament if some of the best French and Northern Hemisphere players were part of the mix. The Foreign influence has added to the quality of the European Cup.
The same would be of a reverse.
The game turned professional in name in 1996 but it is only now starting to now unfold into a professional game.
The best players should always be at the major events like World Cups and the evolution on a national level could be that the only time we see the best Bok team play is at World Cups.
It is at club level (read Super Rugby in that as well) where we have the chance to see the world’s best playing every weekend, in a variety of competitions, and in a manner in which the player’s nationality is secondary to the club colours he wears.