The loss of promising SA Under-20 pivot Handré Pollard to the Blue Bulls is not due to a lack of effort from his home union, says Western Province managing director Rob Wagner.
“We couldn’t have done anything more to keep him here,” Wagner said on Wednesday after giving reporters a “factual rundown” of repeated contract offers that were made to the Paarl Gymnasium prodigy since 2010.
“Western Province identified Pollard at the age of 12 when he went into our elite groups and advanced through those teams to the point that he is now captaining our Under-18 Craven Week side.”
Wagner detailed numerous attempts, over the course of the last two years, to commit the talented youngster to a future in Cape Town, during which time Pollard’s father allegedly denied penning a deal with the Bulls.
However, the Province MD intimated that Pollard must have agreed to a move to Pretoria prior to this season.
“If Handré signed the contract in 2012, it would have had to be in keeping with the SA Rugby regulation which stipulates Western Province would have to be notified,” Wagner said. “The Bulls are good at keeping up with the regulations and therefore I must assume he was contracted before this year.”
An SA Rugby spokesman confirmed that “the Saru general council recently adopted the regulation that… when the new province intends to enter into a contract with a player from his home province for the first time, the new province shall advise the home province…”, and “the home province will be granted an opportunity to equal or better the offer made by the new province”.
“It is foolish to try and retain players who do not wish to be here,” Wagner continued. “They must be here for the right reasons.
“In a professional era, off-contract players have the freedom of movement. The competition for players will go on, players will move, and when they do they will move for many reasons.
“It’s not because we or any other union is not trying to keep them. The Cheetahs and Sharks tried to keep Joe Pietersen and Peter Grant, but they came to us. Players moving to other unions is all part and parcel of the professional era.
“People must understand that rugby is a professional sport, albeit a young one in that regard. This does happen and is likely to happen again.” – Cape Argus