Johannesburg - The South African Rugby Union may have set a dangerous precedent by allowing Blitzbok Francois Hougaard to spend the next eight weeks playing for the Worcester Warriors instead of in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
According to SuperSport.com, Hougaard signed a short-term contract and will be available for eight matches in England before returning for the final two legs of the HSBC Sevens series in Paris and London in June.
But the fact that SARU gave its permission for the move is a worrying one - especially as they had previously tried to get Hougaard to turn out for the Southern Kings' in Super Rugby this year and it seemed as if Hougaard was on his way to play for the Vodacom Bulls this year.
Supersport.com understands the Bulls had agreed terms with Hougaard, and even sent him a contract to sign, but the player then stopped taking their calls and never came back to them.
The offer from Worcester was financially much better with the current Rand-Pound exchange rate and it is understandable that Hougaard would want to head where the money was.
However, SARU still holds his contract and could easily have stopped the move if they wanted to, and the fact they didn't holds a grim future for the Springboks if this becomes a trend with players holding national contracts.
Rugby agents are likely to pursue more overseas contracts as their commissions are higher than locally, while in Hougaard's situation his deal with the Bulls would have only been for match-fees, which would also have netted his agent zero commission.
Worcester are understandably happy with their acquisition, and Hougaard will join fellow former Bulls and Springbok teammates Wynand Olivier and Dewald Potgieter at the club.
Director of Rugby Dean Ryan thanked SARU and said: "Francois is a livewire scrum-half with enormous experience at the top level in South Africa.
"His signing is a statement of intent of where we are heading as a Club and we are genuinely excited about what he can bring to the table.
"We'd also like to thank the South African Rugby Union for allowing Francois to join us at this time."
Hougaard added: "I can't wait to play in the Aviva Premiership and am relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
"After speaking with Dean and close friend Wynand Olivier, Worcester sounds like a fantastic place for any top-end athlete to be and I believe there is a lot to look forward to at the Club.
"Hopefully I can add some experience to the side and we can start pushing our way up the table in this last block of games."
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