Cape Town - Former Springbok centre and assistant coach Brendan Venter has warned SA Rugby that its new contracting system could damage the growth of the game in the country.
In January, SA Rugby announced that dozens of home-based players would be taken into Springbok succession planning next year as part of a radical new contracting strategy.
Players will be ranked by position - with next generation talent also brought into a significantly widened pool - and those who are plying their trade in South Africa will receive top-up payments from their provinces - funded by SA Rugby.
Via a column for the Stuff.co.nz website, Venter has explained why he's not in favour of SA Rugby's proposed new plans.
"The plan for the new strategy from SA Rugby could see as many as 75 players in Springbok succession planning being financially rewarded for it. While the top-tier will benefit from the new policy, the bottom-tier will fall by the wayside.
"I believe the men in suits are making an unbelievable mistake by taking the money they save and giving it to the big boys in the form of match fees. Top players are already well compensated by their clubs and the personnel that want to play for South Africa are going to do so anyway,” Venter wrote.
Venter, who was the Springbok assistant coach under Allister Coetzee in 2016 and 2017, said SA Rugby should rather invest in junior rugby.
"I'm not saying you should be out of pocket playing for South Africa, but why plough the money back into the Springboks and overpay senior national players? If you choose to go overseas, you are making good money already.
"If you play for Saracens, for argument's sake, and head away on Test duty they don't stop paying you. Many teams will keep paying the players even if they are away. I feel the money can be better spent on developing the conveyor belt of talent in order to aid South African rugby's long-term future."
Venter said South Africa boasts the best schoolboy rugby talent in the world and needs to use this to their advantage.
"According to the reshaped model, South African teams won't be recruiting schoolboys and, as such, they aren't going to be exposed to professional rugby in their first three years within the provinces.
"The way the model is at the moment, all the investment has gone out of junior rugby. If the unions are forced to each only have 45 contracted players, the bottom group will not get contracted and there won't be an academy system in place.”
READ Brendan Venter’s full column on the Stuff.co.nz website