Drafting on the cards for SA’s Super Rugby franchises?

    2016-12-09 18:37

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - There was a lot to digest on Friday as SA Rugby announced numerous changes to its administrative structures as the Springboks look to once again be a major force in the game.

    That is not what it is all about - the commercial survival of the sport is also paramount - but at the end of the day a woeful 2016 for the national side set alarm bells ringing as South African rugby reached a new low.

    SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux outlined changes that the General Council had signed off on, and among the biggest is the formation of a franchise committee that will seek to strengthen the state of the country’s six Super Rugby franchises and, ultimately, the Boks.

    A second non-franchise, or semi-professional, sub-committee will cater for the country’s non-Super Rugby playing unions, where club rugby and ensuring a constant flow of quality professionals appears to be the primary mandate.

    It signifies the metaphorical death of SA Rugby’s General Council in its current guise.

    No longer will all 14 unions have the final say in terms of the hiring and firing of the national coach and SA Rugby CEO, and decisions that influence the professional game in the country will now be taken by the franchise committee and a new-look Executive Council.

    The appointment of the Bok coach will be solely conducted by the Executive Council, which is to be made up of four independently appointed members as opposed to the two previous independents.

    The other significant amendment sees potential private investment in unions increased from 49.9% to 74% - an alteration that could be hugely significant for cash-strapped unions like Western Province, Eastern Province and Boland.

    The major change, though, is the removal of the General Council in making major rugby decisions.

    But, says CEO Jurie Roux, the change that will have the quickest impact on the national side is the formation of the franchise committee.

    It is nowhere near the system of centralisation employed in New Zealand rugby, but it is a step in that direction.

    The six franchises will combine to discuss player contracts, the use of international players and how the pool of professional players in South Africa is best managed.

    “That along with the blueprint, coaching indaba and how we operate at franchises will help ensure that when the players actually reach the Springbok team they are already aligned in what we want to do,” Roux said, adding that getting players to peak when they are on Springbok duty was also a major responsibility of the franchise committee.

    “In an ideal world we could have one franchise with five hookers and another with two, and we could see a player move to another franchise.”

    It may still be a long way away, but SA Rugby President Mark Alexander hinted at the possibility of drafting players.

    “I think we’re moving beyond that time of when we must compete with each other,” he said.

    “It could be a drafting system ... we need to find mechanisms of collaborating more.

    “If we want to beat the All Blacks, we need to collaborate as a rugby structure. The All Blacks collaborate with their franchises all the time and even with the national coach.

    “We haven’t had that for a long, long time. That started with the (coaching) indaba and it will continue with the franchise committee.”

    The move is certainly aimed at equipping people - including the independents in the Executive Council - to make decisions that are for the betterment of South African rugby as a whole and not a particular union’s interests.

    “We have increased the independent members to the Executive Council from two to four to get a better balance in terms of rugby and captains of industry,” Roux explained.

    “Those members will be identified based on the needs within the Executive Council and where we need help, be that legal or commercial etc.

    “We have reduced elected members of the Executive Council from seven to six.”

    The General Council will now be made up nine geopolitically determined members in what is the other major change, while all 14 unions will still exist.

    “One of the more important ones for us as well is that we are now completely aligned in terms of our General Council to the geopolitical demarcation, so we now have nine members,” said Roux.

    Changes to the Currie Cup qualifier competition and the Currie Cup itself are also expected to be announced in due course. 

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