Rassie the Springbok Rugby Saviour
The rejuvenation of a traditional power in World Rugby, two-time World Cup champions South Africa, is well underway after a host of ground-breaking changes were made by SARU.
Rassie Erasmus is a man with a vision, prepared to advocate for bold changes in order to right the path of the Springboks and save them from their plight. The early changes have been refreshing, given how rugby is often held back by amateurism and lack of long-term strategic sight.
South African Rugby have realised they cannot win the financial war, so they have changed tact, working with the tide instead of against it and perhaps in the process have set a framework for a stronger playing base in the future.
Overseas clubs will be the ones to pay top dollar to their top players, while they will redirect those high salaries to secure a wider, more youthful playing base. Admirably, they won’t prevent those players that are taking the money from representing the Springboks either, officially scrapping the ‘money or country’ eligibility rules.
There might be fears that this would accelerate a player exodus however this is impractical thought. There are only so many foreign-player quotas around the world, and typically clubs paying for high-profile stars need the resume to match the paycheck. The natural supply and demand of the international player market will determine how many will go, not just how many may want to go.
If SARU can lock in the younger talent for longer and cheaper they will strengthen their system, while the national side will still benefit from the availability of superstars earning offshore.
The global leagues that are run by private owners, the English Premiership and France’s Top 14, conceivably will only continue to grow their product value or their wallets funding it. Being the first major Southern Hemisphere tier one union to concede defeat on the financial front is actually going to position South Africa in a better place for the next 10 years.
While Rugby Australia is exhausting its already-stressed budget to retain the Hooper’s, Pocock’s and Folau’s, South Africa will be working on the foundations of the next generation while overseas billionaires fit the bill for the stars. This is a Moneyball play – pay only what they are worth or less and let others ‘without a business model’ overpay.
Not lost on Erasmus is also the fact that European Rugby is closer to test match quality, meaning he has a direct finger on the pulse on their ability to perform for the Springboks if selected….
READ MORE HERE: Rassie’s Plan to save Bok rugby