South Africa boosts player funding in bid to keep talent at home

Country has suffered from player drain due to weakness of rand

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) will attempt to halt their player drain by making the domestic game more lucrative with additional revenue from image rights to be distributed to all professionals.

A number of top Springbok players have headed to Europe and Japan in recent years to take advantage of the weak local currency in South Africa, while there has also been a targeting of young, emerging talent by clubs outside of the country.

It has not only diluted the country’s Super Rugby franchises, but also made key players unavailable for national team selection due to their overseas club commitments.

Saru has announced an additional 65 million rand (€4 million) per annum will be distributed among locally-based players in a bid to keep them at home after they secured image rights for all professionals in the country.


"It has always been a challenge keeping our players in the country, made ever worse by the weakness of the rand," Saru chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This new deal that we have struck with the players’ organisation is one part of the effort to retain the skills available to the game.

“It has meant a realignment of how we budget, but we are convinced that it is a wise investment for the benefit of South African players and the game in this country.”

Saru has struck a deal with MyPlayers, the body that acts as the official professional rugby players’ organisation in South Africa, to use the collective images of their contracted players in marketing material and appearances for sponsors.

It means they have budgeted for 90 million rand (€5.5 million) per annum to be distributed over the next five years, up from 25 million rand (€1.5 million) in previous seasons.

"The foundation for this deal was laid in 2009 when an agreement was reached to remunerate the national players for the use of their collective commercial rights," said Eugene Henning, managing director at MyPlayers.

“This new agreement will also be extended to all professional players in South Africa while additional provision is made for the collective interests of the players.

“This is a significant step towards ensuring that professional players are well looked after in an environment that is now much more secure, allowing them to explore options which will prepare them for life after rugby.”