Veteran Springbok prop Ollie le Roux could yet still be harnessed in some capacity by the Stormers this season, despite earlier indications that the player would not be eligible for the Super 14 semifinals.
Phil Coetzer from Rugby 365 reports that the official word from the Stormers camp is that Le Roux – who has been plying his trade with Irish province Leinster for the past eight months – will be in Cape Town on Tuesday to ‘visit’ his friend and former teammate Rassie Erasmus, the current Stormers coach.
However, after the Magners League match between Leinster and Newport Gwent Dragons in Dublin at the weekend, Leinster coach Michael Cheika told the media at the post-match conference that Le Roux was in demand at the Stormers.
“I’ve been under pressure from the Stormers, who want Ollie back to play as soon as possible. It’s up to him when he goes back,” Cheika said.
Earlier on Monday, Frikkie Erasmus, the Commercial Manager of the Stormers, told rugby365.com that his franchise would not be able to use Le Roux in the Super 14 beyond the end of the round-robin stages.
The reason for this is the SANZAR rule that prevents players from playing in the semifinals of the Super 14, unless they have played in four regular league games for that franchise that self-same season.
There seems to be some confusion regarding this rule, however, as it would then also seem to rule out players such as Stormers wing Wylie Human, who has been playing for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team for most of the season, before making his Stormers debut against the Brumbies at Newlands last Saturday.
According to Christo Ferreira, the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) General Manager of Policies and Regulations, there are certain situations where SANZAR – the ruling body that oversees the Super 14 and Tri-Nations tournaments – would consider giving new players special permission to play in the semifinals.
“There is definitely a four-game rule in place whereby a player must play four Super 14 games in the season to be allowed to play in the semifinal,” confirmed Ferreira.
“For instance, if a team had a severe injury list, they could possibly be allowed to get players in.
“Dispensation can be granted in emergencies, provided the players were coming into the fold on valid grounds,” concluded Ferreira.
But what about players such as Wylie Human, who have been registered with their franchises for the season, but did not actually appear on the field of play for the required amount of games?
“Players that have stepped up from a lesser competition [such as the Vodacom Cup], will be allowed play for their franchises [in the Super 14 semifinals],” said Ferreira.
Ferreira did not define exactly what would constitute these “valid grounds”. It is assumed that teams with long injury lists in specialist positions such as prop, hooker or scrumhalf would be given special permission to bring in new players – were it deemed necessary by SANZAR.
It does, however, seem that the ruling is setting the precedent for a large grey area, and undoubtedly coaches in need of specialist cover will try to take advantage of that fact.
And the Stormers, with astute people like Rassie and Frikkie Erasmus in their midst, could just exploit this ruling to the full in order to allow an experienced player like Le Roux to come into the selection equation should they qualify for the play-offs.Tweet