Vodacom Super Rugby
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
End of the 'Stormers loophole'
Johannesburg - SANZAR will move to close the “Stormers loophole” in Super Rugby’s regulations that allowed Schalk Britz to fly in from the United Kingdom and play in the Super Rugby semi for the Stormers earlier this year.
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SANZAR CEO Greg Peters confirmed to SuperSport.com that while few changes were expected for the 2012 Super Rugby tournament, there was definitely going to be a change in the player regulations which governed eligibility.
There was unhappiness in both Australia and New Zealand earlier this year as the Stormers “exploited” the regulations by flying in Britz, who plays for Saracens in England, to play at flank for them in their semi-final against the Crusaders at Newlands, a game that the Stormers ultimately lost.
And while the Southern Hemisphere's controlling body won’t be making any moves in 2012, it expects some agreement to come to allow Argentinean players to participate in the Super Rugby competition as part of one of the SANZAR country franchises.
Peters said that while Sanzar had allowed Britz to compete, it certainly would be “closing the loophole” ahead of the 2012 competition.
“We won’t be making substansive changes, but there is definitely the situation regarding eligibility that we will look at. We want to change the current loophole in the regulations that enables players to play in the finals series having not contributed in the league stages,” Peters told SuperSport.com.
“What we are looking for is a declaration of a squad of players that will be eligible through the entire season, and if anyone else needs to come in there needs to be injury proof. Apart from that, to play in the finals series, you need to be eligible, playing in the country by a certain date to qualify.”
Peters said while it had always been left up to the individual countries to nominate players, there now needed to be a better system with dealing with eligibility.
“Teams will now announce a squad of players who will all be eligible throughout the competition, and they can then bring other players in until the cut-off date. After that, players can only be brought in if they have played four games, or as an injury replacement if they are in the country by a certain date.
“The principle is we don’t want to see competition-hopping, we want teams to play through. We don’t want the example of this year’s series when the Stormers exploited that loophole. We say good on them, but now we are closing that one.”
Peters added that while there would not be any Argentinean players in the Super Rugby squads this coming year, it was certainly on the cards for the future.
“It is certainly part of our plans and we hope to see a number of Argentinean players take part in the Southern Hemisphere competitions. At this stage through they will have to be playing in Super Rugby as individuals.”
Argentina joined the SANZAR nations in a new competition called The Rugby Championship and will take part for the first time in 2012 against the three other Southern Hemisphere powerhouses.