The Bulls could bid farewell to yet another Springbok with speculation rife that long-time hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is on the most wanted list of French club Toulouse.
If, indeed, the multi-million rand offer comes through in the next week or two from France then it is inevitable that Ralepelle will join a growing list of Bulls internationals who have succumbed to the power of the Euro and Japanese Yen.
Toulouse boasts some of the best players in the Top 14 with the likes of French internationals Thierry Dusautoir, Yannick Nyanga, Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Louis Picamoles, former All Black Luke McAllister, former Wallaby Luke Burgess and Springbok prop Gurthrö Steen-kamp with Gary Botha just having finished his contract with the club.
Even more attractive is that Toulouse is regarded as one of the best clubs in Europe having won a record four Heineken Cups and 19 French Championship titles.
“This offer is unrefusable. It is too huge for him to say no to,” said a reliable source from France yesterday.
Springboks Morné Steyn, Juandré Kruger, Jacques Potgieter and Zane Kirchner have all confirmed their departures later this year with Kruger likely to leave at the end of June when his contract with the Bulls expires.
Kruger is going to France along with Steyn while Potgieter will leave at the end of the Super Rugby campaign for Japan with Kirchner also likely to leave at the end of July for his new club in Ireland.
There has been talk about Springbok centre Wynand Olivier also leaving the Bulls permanently after enjoying a stint in Japan last year but his alleged deal with French club Stade Francais apparently fell through.
A few weeks ago the Bulls had moved to assure their supporters that they were doing everything in their power to keep their top players in Pretoria but in Ralepelle’s case it seems as though the Bulls’ hands are tied because the decision on whether Ralepelle will leave or stay lies with the Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
The fact that Ralepelle did not play for the national team last year even though he was one of the stand out hookers, will contribute hugely to Ralepelle’s departure.
Furthermore, Ralepelle was again given the cold shoulder by Meyer last month when Springbok contracts were awarded to Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss and Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis even though Du Plessis has not played rugby this year and Ralepelle has been one of the top hookers in the Super Rugby competition in 2013.
Sources close to the story have revealed that Ralepelle’s imminent move could still be halted if the apparent behind-the-scenes talks between Ralepelle’s agent Gerrie Swart and Meyer prove fruitful.
Earlier this year Ralepelle had been the target of lucrative offers from a handful of English clubs but he could not consider any of the offers as he failed to meet the requirement because he has not played for the Springboks in the last 18 months with his last appearance having been at the Rugby World Cup in the group match against Samoa.
Blue Bulls Company High Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg was almost certain that Ralepelle would be staying at the Bulls even though he could not confirm that a new deal had been agreed and signed between the player and the union.
“It’s finalised already. I’m 99.99percent certain that he is not going abroad,” was all Janse Van Rensburg could say yesterday.
Ralepelle and Swart did not answer their phones yesterday after several attempts to get comment from them. - The Star