Jake White says SA Rugby’s move to cut the number of the country’s professional rugby players in half could have repercussions.
With most of South Africa’s provincial unions in financial trouble, SA Rugby believes remodelling the contracting system is the only way to keep the best players in South Africa.
There are 989 professional players in South Africa, resulting in R480-million spent on salaries per year. The new contracting system is aimed at reducing salary costs by at least R75-million and the contracted player pool to 459.
‘The move to cut the pool of South Africa’s professional players in half is a big crossroads for our rugby,’ White wrote in his latest column for AllOutRugby.com. ‘Some people are reading it as a positive, but if the 450 players we want to keep are the ones that leave, then we’ll be in an even deeper hole than we are now.
‘If you’re building a pyramid, the wider the base, the higher the peak. A big school of 1,000 boys produces more quality players than a school of 450 boys. So, if you want your national rugby team to be strong, then the more players you have, the better. If we expose fewer players to professional rugby, how can we expect to compete against the best?
‘Firing half of our players does have some merit because of financial considerations, but only if you’re going to keep the best players.
‘If it’s going to mean better coaching, control and management of individuals, and fewer players sharing a bigger portion of the money, then it will have been worthwhile. But if it’s not those things, then having fewer players will be detrimental because we’ll be where we are now with less talent to choose from.’