• Toulon boss wants Boks back

    Mourad Boudjellal has demanded that Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha quit the Springboks' Rugby Championship campaign and report for club duty.

    Toulon recently lost 28-24 to Stade Français, and currently sit at third on the Top 14 log. Their president is clearly not pleased with his side's form at present, and has publicly lamented the club's lengthy list of injuries as well as the absence of international stars like Habana, Botha, and Pumas flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

    The three Test players are currently competing in the Rugby Championship, which is sanctioned by the IRB. Clubs have to release the players who are selected by their countries during the specified Test window.

    And yet, the French publication Varmatin reports that the Toulon president is not happy following his club's home defeat to Stade Français. Boudjellal has demanded that Habana, Botha, and Lobbe all return to France by the end of the week or face the consequence of not being paid.

    The law, at least as far as the IRB is concerned, is on the side of these players, as well as the Test teams that have selected them for the duration of the Rugby Championship.

    Boudjellal, however, has said he is willing to take the matter to court. He feels that clubs like Toulon should be compensated during an IRB-sanctioned Test window.

    'There is something that is quite simple, they defend the colours of their country and are paid rather comfortably by Toulon,' Boudjellal said.

    'The IRB decided the rules. That’s fine but I’m not here to fund South African and Argentine rugby and I will not. These players will return as we need them. If they do not and we receive no fee, they will not be paid by us because they will not be present in Toulon.

    'We’ll see if the rules of the IRB prevail or if it is the rules of the Labour Code for French private enterprise,' he added. 'In any case, it is an aberration.

    'We have reached a stage where we have to ask the opinion of the French law. Therefore, we will ask the French judges whether a foreign federation has the right to take my employees and force me to pay them.

    'It’s just unthinkable we have players who are paid very well by us but cannot not play them. Moreover, I have to pay the players replacing them. This is a double sanction.'

    Toulon have also threatened to terminate the contract of Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who is yet to play for the club due to a series of serious injuries.

    Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

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    Jon Cardinelli