Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux at the Boks’ arrival from Japan at OR Tambo International Airport last year. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Makazole Mapimpi and Willie le Roux at the Boks’ arrival from Japan at OR Tambo International Airport last year. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

All eyes on Mapimpi, Pieter-Steph on D-Day for SA rugby contracts

By Jacques Van Der Westhuyzen, Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published May 14, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - It’s deadline day for South Africa’s professional rugby players who want to end their contracts with their current employers.

When South Africans wake up on Friday morning they’ll know who has decided to “stay” and who has decided to “go” following tonight’s midnight deadline for SA Rugby players to have their contracts with their respective unions torn up.

In a much-talked about industry-wide move to help save South African rugby millions of rands due to the suspension of all rugby because of the coronavirus, players were given a three-week window to “escape” from their contracts to pursue other opportunities.

The question now is, following the period which started on April 24, who will opt out and who’ll stay?

While the opportunity to explore other options abroad would certainly be enticing for those players whose contracts end after Super Rugby (the normal end date would be in June) or at the end of 2020, the reality is there are not too many (European) clubs who’d be confident spending a lot of money now not knowing what the future holds.

Like in South Africa where the professional players are set to take salary cuts from the end of this month, European clubs, too, are set to slash the salaries of their players.

While this country’s unions and franchises haven’t made any announcements around players who’ve opted “out of their contracts” it is expected that some players will take that route.

Talk about Pieter-Steph du Toit taking up a big overseas offer has done the rounds in recent weeks, while other World Cup winners, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, are believed to also be on the shopping lists of some overseas clubs. Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch has also come up as a player who may opt out.

It’ll also be interesting to see what two recent returnees from Europe and veterans of the game, Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts, of the Lions will decide to do regarding their futures.

World Cup winner from 2007, prop Du Plessis is 37, joined the Lions at the start of this year but struggled to keep his place in the starting team, while Alberts (35) also only recently joined the Lions again after playing for five years in France.

The decision to “terminate” one’s contract will come from the player (and/or his agent) only and with no negotiation or discussion of a counter-offer by employers, in an effort to ensure no player benefits in this time.

A source close to the process made it yesterday that, due to a number of factors and so much uncertainty about the future of sport and rugby, that only after the deadline will South African rugby fans know who will soldier on locally and who’ll seek a chance to make it big abroad.


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