‘Noble’ retirement sees CJ Stander leaving behind €1.6m in potential earnings

Ireland forward in line for tax relief of about €500,000 – if 30-year-old remains retired

CJ Stander’s last match for Ireland will be against England on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

CJ Stander’s last match for Ireland will be against England on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Earlier this week CJ Stander shocked the Ireland camp by revealing Saturday’s Six Nations encounter against England in Dublin will be the last game he plays for his adopted country.

Stander is rejecting an IRFU contract extension to return to his family in South Africa.

Even more surprising was the 30-year-old’s decision to retire from “all forms of rugby”. A year ago, during the first lockdown, when Stander returned to South Africa with his wife and daughter, he gave an interview to the George Herald stating his intention to make a permanent return home after passing 50 caps for Ireland, but he also fully intended to keep playing.

On Tuesday, Stander removed the prospect of playing on after he, ideally, finishes up on the British and Irish Lions team that faces the Springboks this summer.

At the end of 2020, there was a road to Damascus moment while training for Munster in “freezing” conditions, with Stander no longer being able to “justify the sacrifices my family was making”.

An industry source estimates that Stander’s decision to retire means he can claim tax relief in the region of €500,000.

Substantial money

Since 2002, the Finance Act has made provisions for professional sports people to claim back tax for any 10 years of their career by way of a 40 per cent reduction from their wages or prize money, but not endorsements. At the time, minister for finance Charlie McCreevy said the intention was to help athletes who have relatively short careers to earn substantial money and to raise the prestige of Ireland as a location for professional sports people.

This continues to provide an enormous boon for rugby players employed by the IRFU. But only if they retire while living in the European Union. And stay retired.

Last January New York-based consortium MVM Holdings LLC, headed by Marco Masotti, a lawyer raised in Amanzimtoti just south of Durban, purchased 51 per cent of the Sharks franchise that is about to join Europe’s Pro16 league.

A recently retired international firmly believes that Stander could continue playing for another four seasons. Should the Munster backrow feel that his 31-year-old body can keep going, and he is tempted out of retirement by the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers or Lions he will need to finish his career in Europe if he wants to claim the six-figure tax relief from the Irish Government.

‘Strong defender’

Also, Stander’s spotless injury profile and consistency of performance – on Saturday he racks up 52 Test matches in just five seasons – would command a two-year contract in the region of €800,000 from any number of French clubs. He could earn even more in Japan.

His decision to retire, primarily for family reasons, which Munster captain Peter O’Mahony described as “noble”, does appear to be leaving €1.6 million in potential earnings on the table.

“I noticed this week that CJ Stander announced his retirement and what a wonderful player he has been for Ireland,” said England coach Eddie Jones. “He’s a good carrier and a good strong defender.

“It also shows the people who don’t get much recognition in professional rugby – the wives, the families of the players, management staff and coaches. What a special role they play. The players and the staff are away for long periods of time and they have to carry on with their lives and we should recognise the enormous service they do to the game. We will be sad to see CJ Stander not play for Ireland anymore.”

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