Cape Town - Former national coach Jake White has warned that there could be a mass exodus of players if SA Rugby opts to scrap Springbok player contracts.
White, who shared his views via a column for the All Out Rugby website, was responding to a recent report that indicated that SA Rugby was planning on scrapping Springbok contracts in favour of players earning bigger Test match fees.
“There will be a mass exodus of players after next year when Springbok contracts are replaced by match fees. A player who currently has a dual contract worth R3m (with half covered by his union and the other by his Bok contract) can’t be expected to stick around after he loses 50 percent of that guaranteed income. While the match fees are set to be inflated, the reality is that very few players will feature in every Test, every year and that means the change in payment structure actually encourages players to go overseas,” White wrote.
Netwerk24 reported earlier this month that the idea was proposed by Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, who is also SA Rugby’s director of rugby.
If the proposal is accepted, there would no longer be joint contracts for certain players, which currently sees SA Rugby paying 70% and a provincial union 30%.
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The report added that the new system could come into effect from the 2020 season.
Springbok players currently do earn match fees, and that figure would increase to anything between R250 000 and R400 000.
But White has his reservations: "(Duane) Vermeulen and (Malcolm) Marx are star players and neither of them have appeared in every Test this year, so why would they stay in South Africa? Duane only signed at the Bulls for one year and that’s a clear indication that the switch from long-term Bok contracts to match fees has influenced his decision.
"I find the change very puzzling. Two of the smallest rugby-playing nations in the world, New Zealand and Ireland are first and second on the rankings. Their coaches and players are all paid by the head office and they have to stay in the country to play for the national team. So why would we go in completely the opposite direction?"
READ Jake White’s full column on the All Out Rugby website