The South African Rugby Union has admitted that the call for a blanket ban on contracted Springboks playing in the Currie Cup was made by the provinces.
This follows the rugby365.com report on Wednesday, which revealed that most of the country’s leading players stood united in their objection to the absurd decision to withdraw all the contracted Springboks from the Currie Cup.
SARU on Thursday contacted the South African Rugby Players’ Association to express its “surprise and alarm” at their representation of the Springbok conditioning programme.
However, SARU also admitted that the call was made by provinces – who served their own interests, but for reasons that had little to do with the greater good of the national team.
“The provinces were asked in a conference call this week to treat player resting on a case-by-case basis,” SARU said in a statement, adding: “Provinces preferred to uniformly rest the players to prevent unfair advantages or disadvantages being created in the Currie Cup.”
As was reported by rugby365.com on Wednesday, the proverbial pawpaw hit the fan when the Free State Cheetahs objected to the inclusion of Springboks like Bakkies Botha and Wynand Olivier in the Blue Bulls team. These two teams, last year’s finalists, meet in a crunch match in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Once the call was made to withdraw ‘all contracted Boks’, only then did the Cheetahs realise they would be losing two key players in Juan Smith and CJ van der Linde – with the latter having already been named in the Cheetahs starting XV and Smith set to return to the fray in a week or two.
The fall-out over Tuesday’s decision also saw the Sharks and Western Province up in arms – with players like Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, JP Pietersen, AD Jacobs (all Sharks) and Ricky Januarie (WP) in desperate need of game time.
Perfect examples are Du Plessis, back from neck surgery, and Mtawarira, spending most of his time on the Bok bench, - who have been impressive in the Currie Cup, but they are likely to stagnate with no game time.
SARU said in a statement, headlined: ‘Springbok conditioning programme – the facts’, that the organisation shares SARPA’s disappointment that certain contracted players are unable to currently enjoy much-needed match practice.
However, SARU suggested that the SARPA release is a gross distortion of the facts.
According to SARU, the facts are:
1) All players are primarily contracted to provinces.
2) A number of elite players also accept Springbok contracts
3) SARU cannot prescribe when, or how often, these contracted Springboks appear for their provinces
4) In order to lighten the workload of players SARU set the goal of managing players on an individual basis in 2010 as per the pattern of the 2006 season.
5) Provinces agreed to the proposal earlier this year and are compensated for the time that the players are not available to them.
6) The outline plan was shared with the contracted players and SARPA CEO Piet Heymans in February 2010.
7) Individual conditioning programmes have been provided for the players. The hope was that players’ workloads could be managed on an individual basis in conjunction with their provinces.
9) SARU announced on July 2 that contracted Springboks would be rested for a month, following the Tri-Nations. SARPA made no comment at that time nor has SARPA contacted SARU in the intervening nine weeks to raise an objection.
10) The provinces were asked in a conference call this week to treat player resting on a case-by-case basis. Provinces preferred to uniformly rest the players to prevent unfair advantages or disadvantages being created in the Currie Cup.
11) No Springbok player has spoken to team management or the national teams department objecting to the principle either now or at any point in the last nine weeks.
Paragraph 10 in the SARU statement is the real clincher – which makes it clear the provinces were serving their own interests, but for reasons that had little to do with the greater good of the national team.
At the same time paragraphs three and nine in the SARU statement also seems to contradict each other.
SARPA CEO Piet Heymans told rugby365.com that their objection, as outlined in Wednesday’s release, was not aimed at discrediting the conditioning programme, but merely served to highlight the unfairness of a blanket ban – which means that players in desperate need of game time are deprived of such an opportunity.
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet