Funding remodeling for Saru

Saru has approved a 'significant' new funding model that is designed to see more players remain in South Africa.

With South African rugby facing an ever-increasing exodus of players overseas, especially in light of the weakening rand, Saru has approved a new funding model as part of the 2016 budget. The increase in funding – from R25m to R90m per annum (in addition to Springbok contracts and match fees) – was approved by the general council last Friday.

The new arrangement secures the collective image rights of all South African professional rugby players for use by their employers. It means that all 14 provincial unions – as well as the mother body – can use the collective images of their contracted players in marketing material and appearances for sponsors, now that those rights have been secured from MyPlayers, the official professional rugby players’ organisation. MyPlayers will manage the distribution of the income to players in a number of ways, thereby making South Africa a more viable option to ply their professional trade.

'It has always been a challenge keeping our players in the country, made ever worse by the weakness of the rand,' Saru chief executive Jurie Roux commented. 'This new deal that we have struck with the players’ organisation is one part of the effort to retain the skills available to the game. It has meant a realignment of how we budget, but we are convinced that it is a wise investment for the benefit of South African players and the game in this country.'

MyPlayers said that the distribution back to players would have a sharp focus on player initiatives such as career development and financial security.

'The foundation for this deal was laid in 2009 when an agreement was reached to remunerate the national players for the use of their collective commercial rights,' said Eugene Henning, managing director at MyPlayers. 'This new agreement will also be extended to all professional players in South Africa, while additional provision is made for the collective interests of the players.'

Henning further expressed how this move will benefit the welfare of players: 'This is a significant step towards ensuring that professional players are well looked after in an environment that is now much more secure, allowing them to explore options which will prepare them for life after rugby. It allows us to significantly broaden our offering with a focused investment towards player development and welfare, life after rugby, financial well-being and commercial appeal.'

The agreement will come into effect on 1 January 2016 for a period of five years.

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis