Ok, hopefully I’m not the only one who is really confused about what’s going on here…
So, it all started with Bakkies Botha announcing that he wanted to pack his bags to go join his pal Big Vic in sunny France, courtesy of a nice fat offer from the boys at RC Toulonnais. Didn’t take long before the Bulls promptly extended the central digit in his direction, informing him, in no uncertain terms, that he was not at liberty to just walk out of his five-year contract less than two years after he’d signed it.
Making the matter more intriguing yet was the fact that all of this happened a mere two days after Bulls mentor and spurned Bok coaching candidate Heyneke Meyer announced that he was done with the game.
So, all done and dusted – a happy ending for SA Rugby and the Bulls, Heyneke joining Jake in the corporate world, far from the shenanigans at SARU HQ and the evil (and probably smelly) French raiders sent packing with their escargots firmly between their legs, or something to that effect. Probably not the result that one John Philip Botha was hoping for, but at the end of the day he would probably be all right, tucked safely into his extra long bed in his multi-million Rand Pretoria mansion, a framed portrait of Victor, his locks billowing in the breeze and his beard bristling, above the headboard. His teddy, Meneer Heyneke, would no doubt be snuggled in warmly with him, but I digress.
So imagine our surprise when our intrepid papsak-toting news hound, provincejoulekkading, uncovered this gem on the RC Tolounnais website. Once we’d scrabbled around and managed to find one of the faithful who was at least a little familiar with the language of garlic and onions, we pretty quickly cottoned on to the fact that, as far as the Frogs were concerned, this was a done deal. Bakkies Botha had in fact signed a contract to join them effective 26 April. This year. In 8 weeks time.
Wow… now, does he realise that, unlike friends, beers and T-shirts, it is actually possible to have too many professional rugby contracts? Because it seems to me that young John Botha is very rapidly going to discover the truth behind that old Biblical pearler which sayeth, “No man can serve two masters…” It’s Matthew 6:24, for those who want to check up on me.
Not surprisingly, the Bulls are saying very little, sticking to their statement of a week or so ago that Botha’s request to be released has been denied, that he remains a loyal and committed member of the squad, that no, they’re not completely sure exactly where he is at this moment, but they’re sure he’ll be back in action the week after next.
SARU, on the other hand, have come out with all guns blazing. Well, one gun, to be completely accurate: their manager of legal affairs, Christo Ferreira. Seems the Bulls (and Toulon) aren’t the only folk with whom Bakkies has a signed contract. He recently put pen to paper with the national body as well (does he even read these things?) and they are certainly going to insist on getting their pound (or 120kg and 2.02m) of flesh. SARU and the Bulls will not release Botha from either contract, meaning that any contract he has signed with the Frenchmen is essentially meaningless, as he may legally not play for them without these releases. If he has indeed signed this third contract, Toulon have just bought themselves the most expensive cheerleader in the history of professional sport.
So what is the point here? Surely both Botha and the boys in France must realise that it’s futile to carry on these negotiations given the current situation. So why the announcement on the website when there cannot (realistically) be any truth to the rumoured “signing”. And what of the continued rumours linking the erstwhile (I love that word) Bulls headman with Tana Umaga’s job at the same French club? Quite honestly, I’m just as perplexed as all of you.
Stay tuned, though, because I’m sure this soap opera will soon bring another thrilling installment. I wonder how long it will be before they start playing the theme to “Rustelose Jare” at Loftus? Perhaps Bob Marley’s “Exodus” would be more appropriate.Tweet