Lions to cull players in line with SA Rugby plan
Johannesburg - The Lions have announced that they will offer severance packages to an undisclosed number of their contracted players.
READ: The Lions' full press release
This follows a recent announcement by SA Rugby that the country's rugby governing body intended to cut the number of professional players in the country.
Via a press statement released on Friday, the Lions announced that they have “involuntarily” taken the decision.
“Due to changes in the Rugby Industry whereby the decision to reduce professional players has been instigated the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. has been involuntarily required to offer mutual severance packages to contracted players,” the statement read.
The Lions did not indicate who the affected players were.
The statement continued: “The Company has been in communications with SAREO, The South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) and various CEOs of the different Rugby Franchises over the past year in order to determine the most appropriate way forward, change in competitions structures, the changes of the industry as well as the increasing financial pressures.
“The Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. began engaging with various players whereby a mutual separation and exiting agreements could be concluded with the support of SA Rugby and SARPA.”
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander earlier said the new system would aim to reduce the number of professional players in the country from around 990 to 460.
It means that the major franchises will only be able to contract between 40-50 players per season.
Mandisi Tshonti, General Manager of Player Affairs at SARPA, believes the Lions’ decision was done with the best interests of the players and the union in mind.
“With unions experiencing ongoing stress determined by factors within the industry, we can expect more of these processes to follow in the future. This process is not something new in the industry and as representatives of the players we were informed of planned consultations with the players. Form past experiences we have seen that if this process is followed correctly it will be beneficial for both parties but we will nonetheless stay close to the process and advise the players,” said Tshonti.
Bart Schoeman, High Performance Manager of the Lions, added: “After numerous meetings with all relative parties the industry changes have forced a change in strategic planning. Processes have been forced to ensure sustainability and succession plans with the franchise. For Lions Rugby equality, transparency and future opportunity is of paramount importance whereby confidentiality is key to the sensitivity of the process.”