It’s up to the players

The decision to rest the Springboks from the Currie Cup was rubber-stamped by the players themselves months ago.

When Bok coach Jake White announced the decision to pull the top Boks from the next two Currie Cup competitions, it was greeted with a certain amount of scepticism by media and public alike. One of the ramifications of that decision is those players who miss out on the domestic scene are likely to lose a substantial amount of money.

SA Rugby Players’ Association boss Piet Heymans told keo.co.za that the players were consulted throughout the process which started in July last year.

“It is up to the individual to decide whether he wants to risk losing that income for a shot at representing the Springboks at the World Cup in France,” Heymans said. “The rewards though are substantially higher. It is a calculated risk, but we know that if we are to win the World Cup our players need rest.”

This year has already seen an extra two Super 14 matches, while the Tri-Nations has also expanded by two more matches per team. The Tri-Nations ends on September 9 and the opening Test of the end-of-year tour is against Ireland on November 11. Ultimately the Boks will only miss Currie Cup matches in September and October – eight weeks’ rest from matches.

“England will have a massive 19 weeks off ahead of the World Cup, which is exactly what we need, but our problem is the players in this country are not centrally contracted,” explained Heymans.

In Australia, New Zealand and England, the national body controls the contracts of their senior players, while in SA, Springboks are contracted to their union, with an additional contract with SA Rugby. It makes the issue of taking players out of local competition that much more difficult.

“We certainly need central contracts, but a lot of time and effort will be required before that is sorted out. I’m confident though that we will achieve that objective. Sarpa’s relationship with SA Rugby is much better, so we are working towards a common goal now.”

By Andrew Hollely