Franchises have final say

South African teams will decide when to rest their players during the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, despite guidelines by Saru.

Saru has released a statement in a bid to clear up any confusion surrounding the agreement with Super Rugby franchises regarding the management of key players.

The two parties have come to a verbal agreement in a bid to aid the Springboks' preparations for the World Cup, but Saru is unable to legally force franchises to rest certain players.

Two principles were identified as being ideal:
– That players should not play more than five consecutive weeks.
– That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (two to four weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources).

Note: Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks) while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for two weeks during the first seven weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played five consecutive weeks at the end of week seven).

Saru CEO Jurie Roux went on to explain the guidelines agreed upon.

'The players are primarily the assets of the unions and they will have their different dynamics and needs at different stages of the season.

'We worked towards the understanding to prioritise Springbok readiness for the international season and the World Cup but we realise it's a balancing act for coaches in terms of juggling their union’s needs and the national interest.

'The important thing for Saru was to take the initiative to try and find a solution to questions relating to player workload. If we get 90% compliance during the season it will be a 100% improvement on where we were a year ago when no player could expect any break.

'If franchises feel they are unable to stick to the letter of the understanding that is less than ideal but we would expect them to stick as close to it as possible in the interests of the Springboks.'

Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images