The Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union has approved a new funding model for professional rugby players designed to encourage more players to see out their careers at home. The increase in funding – from R25 million to R90 million per annum (in addition to Springbok contracts and match fees) – was approved by the General Council on Friday as part of the 2016 SARU budget. The new arrangement secures the collective image rights of all South African professional rugby players for use by their employers.
It means that all 14 provincial unions – as well as the mother body – can use the collective images of their contracted players in marketing material and appearances for sponsors, now that those rights have been secured from MyPlayers, the official professional rugby players’ organisation. MyPlayers will manage the distribution of the income to players in a number of ways, thereby making South Africa a more viable option to ply their professional trade.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux says: ‘It has always been a challenge keeping our players in the country, made ever worse by the weakness of the rand. 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.’
MyPlayers said that the distribution back to players would have a sharp focus on player initiatives such as career development and financial security. MyPlayers managing direcotr Eugene Henning says: ‘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. 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.’
Henning further expressed how this move will further benefit the welfare of 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. It allows us to significantly broaden our offering with a focused investment towards player development and welfare, life after rugby, financial well-being and commercial appeal.’
The agreement comes into effect on 1 January 2016 for a period of five years.
Photo credit: Prensa UAR