Saru is currently working on a new contracting system in order to keep South Africa's top talent in the country. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Following reports in French publication Midi Olympique regarding 'secret plans' being drawn up by Saru to limit the exodus of players to France, the UK and Japan, Saru has confirmed talks are underway regarding a new set of contract regulations.
'We have been in contact with the South African Rugby Players Association [Sarpa] and the contracted Springboks to outline our plans for 2016 as we clearly wish to retain players in South Africa while the players are understandably keen to understand their options,' a Saru spokesman confirmed to SARugbymag.co.za.
'We are working on a new contracting model to that end, which we hope to have completed in agreement with Sarpa and the provincial unions by the end of April.'
The talks are said to revolve around the possibility of a central contracting system for the top 40 players in the country in a move that would bring Saru closer to the system that has worked with great success in New Zealand.
However, where the New Zealand Rugby Union contracts up to 150 professional players from the five New Zealand franchises, South Africa's pool is thought to focus only on those players who are current or future Springboks.
As things stand currently, only Springbok players hold contracts with Saru, while the final say in how players are managed lies with their unions, who are responsible for paying the players' salaries.
Saru and the South African unions have been unable to stem the flow of players overseas in recent times, as they've struggled to match the financial clout of European and Japanese clubs.
The new measures, involving a 90-day window during which time a player is forbidden from negotiating with any overseas club, will give Saru time to make the best possible offer.
However, players and agents alike could use the resultant tug-of-war between club and country as a bargaining chip to secure the most lucrative deal.
While centrally contracting players is undoubtedly a step in the right direction when it comes to player management of the Springboks, it's unlikely to affect the thinking of players who remain on the periphery of the Bok squad, whose earning potential is far greater should they choose to pursue their careers abroad.
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