The South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) executive council has unveiled a newly approved funding model for professional rugby players in the country which is aimed at encouraging more local players to develop and sustain their careers in South Africa, rather than seeking contracts in other countries.
The budget available for this funding model now increases substantially from $1.7 million (R25 million) to $6 million (R90 million) per year, which is in addition to Springbok contracts and match fees applicable for national team games.
This was recently approved as part of the 2016 SARU budget, and will come into force from January 1, 2016.
The new arrangement secures the collective image rights of all South African professional rugby players for use by their provincial unions and the mother body, according to a deal agreed with MyPlayers, the official professional rugby players’ organisation.
“It has always been a challenge keeping our players in the country, made ever worse by the weakness of the rand,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux, according to the SARU website.
“This new deal that we have struck with the players’ organisation is one part of the effort to retain the skills available to the game. It has meant a realignment of how we budget but we are convinced that it is a wise investment for the benefit of South African players and the game in this country,” he added.
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MyPlayers managing director Eugene Henning was pleased with the new deal, commenting: “The foundation for this deal was laid in 2009 when an agreement was reached to remunerate the national players for the use of their collective commercial rights.”
“This new agreement will also be extended to all professional players in South Africa while additional provision is made for the collective interests of the players. This is a significant step towards ensuring that professional players are well looked after in an environment that is now much more secure allowing them to explore options which will prepare them for life after rugby,” he added.
“It allows us to significantly broaden our offering with a focused investment towards player development and welfare, life after rugby, financial well-being and commercial appeal,” Henning concluded.
A number of South African rugby players ply their trade in Japan, France and England due to their ability to capture more lucrative playing contracts in those countries, but this deal will help the union to keep more players in South Africa going forward.