No dotted line for Boks to sign
COMPLICATIONS surrounding contracts for Springbok players may soon be added to the problem of sorting out the Kings' participation in Super Rugby.
It has emerged that with less than a month to go to the first test of the year, top players are restive because no standard contract is in place.
Piet Heymans, chief executive of the SA Rugby Players' Association (Sarpa), confirmed the matter of a standard contract has been referred to arbitration.
"With Heyneke Meyer having been appointed as the new coach no squad has as yet been named, but players want to know what the contract comprises in terms of basic remuneration, match fees and win bonuses.
"We have been unable to put in place a similar arrangement to that of 2007 when a standard contract was in operation until after the World Cup in 2011.
"The players are very unhappy about it and there is a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction and frustration that a third party might have to decree how this is settled," said Heymans.
Meyer is under pressure because he has no time to prepare a side to take on England in Durban on June 9 after two Super Rugby derbies on June 2, and discontented players are not ideal. Provincial franchises are adding to the problem by demanding a cut of the fees Saru pays the unions .
Andy Marinos, the Saru official responsible for liaison with Sarpa, confirmed that arbitration will take place. No date has been set, but he said: "The problems are not insurmountable and we're confident it will be sorted out before the test season."
It will add to the already pressing difficulty caused by the participation of the Kings in Super Rugby. A Saru press release indicated they will meet the Super XV franchises on Thursday to discuss how to incorporate the Kings without disadvantaging one of the existing participants.
Saru's executive will hold a follow-up meeting on May 24 to thrash out a solution that will have to be laid before the union's general council for ratification on July 13.
But Lions president Kevin de Klerk has vowed to fight for "my union's rightful place in South African rugby".
He said though a vote was taken to promote the Kings, no decisions had been made on mechanisms. He is upset that a plan to forward other competition formats to Sanzar seems to have been shelved.
"The perception that it is the Lions that will go out is erroneous. The Super XV is immensely hard, on administrators, finances and players, and this needs to be faced up to. We intend to fight our corner," he said, but declined to be drawn on whether the Lions would contemplate legal action.
He added that Lions coach John Mitchell's reported views that amalgamation with the Cheetahs to reform the Cats be considered "is a personal opinion and does not reflect the position of the union".