Bulls up the ante

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Bulls, In the news on 1 May 2008 at 09:19
Tagged with :

Springbok lock and former Bulls captain Victor Matfield will become the highest paid rugby player in the country if he accepts an eleventh-hour revised offer by the Blue Bulls Company (BBC) to return to Loftus Versfeld.

Vata Ngobeni,

Matfield stands to earn in the region of R3,5-million a year for a period of three years and this besides his endorsements, which will see him earning more than any other World Cup-winning Springbok playing here.

However, standing in the way of Matfield returning to South Africa from his present job at French club Toulon is a lucrative offer from English club Northampton, who have put a staggering ?375 000 (around R5,6-million) a year on the table for the lock’s services.

The BBC remained hopeful on Wednesday that they would be able to lure Matfield back to Loftus after offering the lanky lock his potential contract on Wednesday morning.

Matfield now has until midnight on Saturday – a three day extension to the self-imposed Wednesday deadline which expired yesterday – to make up his mind on whether he wants to return to his homeland or brave three years in unfavourable conditions in Europe. Staying in Europe could also spell the end of his future Springbok aspirations.

“We made Victor an offer in the morning and we are expecting a decision before the close of business on Saturday,” said BBC’s business and communications manager Ian Schwartz yesterday.

However, Schwartz was reluctant to divulge the details of the new offer, nor was he willing to comment on the Bulls’ chances of getting Matfield to sign on the dotted line.

“I cannot comment on anything to do with money because this is a confidential matter. It could be good or bad news, we’ll just have to wait,” said Schwartz.

If Matfield accepts the Bulls offer then he will stay in South Africa until 2011, ensuring his availability for the Springboks beyond next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

A source close to Matfield is confident that he would be returning to join the Bulls after his jackpot six-month contract with French Second Division club Toulon comes to an end in July.

“He definitely wants to come back. He wants to rectify what is going wrong at the moment with the Bulls and wants to be part of the new era,” said the source.

Meanwhile, the BBC, in a statement, lambasted Springbok lock Bakkies Botha for lodging a complaint at the labour court to have his contract declared null and void and also took a swipe at Bernie Habana, Botha’s agent and father to Springbok and Bulls wing Bryan Habana.

The BBC’s statement has questioned the ethics of Botha and Bernie Habana for breaching the International Rugby Board’s regulation by negotiating with another club while Botha was still in contract with the BBC and also not in the 120 day period before the expiration of his contract.

In September 2006, Botha – at his own request – extended his Bulls contract by five years and received a substantial increase along with it. The contract was meant to expire in 2011.

The BBC further stated that they would enforce the agreement between them and Botha as it was the extension of Botha’s contract that led to the BBC not being able to retain the services of locks Adriaan Fondse (Stormers), Cliff Milton (Stade Francais) and Francois van Schouwenburg (Toulon).

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