While talk of sporting implications of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union continues to grow, there is no reason to fear for the South Africans playing rugby in England.
The Rugby Football Union is carrying on with business as usual and with the intent to see out contracts as planned, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
As many as 78 Kolpak players play in the Premiership across the 12 sides with South Africans forming the majority. Alan Solomons’ Worcestor Warriors have a dozen Kolpak players with London Irish racking up double digits. More Kolpak contracts can be found with foreigners in Scotland and Wales because of the system that has been seen an easy gateway into the lucrative northern-hemisphere market for South African, Australasian and Pacific Island players.
‘As things stand, nothing affects South Africans for now and all the contracts that have been signed before the deadline will be honored,’ said James Adams, MD of In Touch Sports.
‘The quotas remain as they are for the season – I suspect that isn’t going to change. Contracts signed after the 31 December deadline may be a different story.’
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Part of the reason why foreign players remain in high demand is due to player workload issues when the British clubs lose players in the international window.
Weighing in on the matter, agent Gert van der Merwe believes the South African sides may benefit in the mid-term with some players still a little weary of the long-term implications combined with the fact that the new contracting model in their country of birth provides more competitive salaries when tax issues are factored into the bottom line.
But don’t expect the tide of the country’s top players to be stemmed with visas still relatively easier to attain. A player who has featured in 75% of Vodacom Super Rugby matches in two seasons is eligible for a work permit.
Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee says ‘instead of losing 15 players, we’ll lose 10 but those could be 10 top players’.
The change could come when it’s time to contract younger players but Coetzee insists his franchise will go ahead with their current plans.
‘We’ll be loyal to the players that stood by us,’ he said.
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