According to Jan de Koning and Rugby365, Heyneke Meyer’s first test won’t be against the Poms, but against local rugby franchises and unions.
Heyneke Meyer has hit his first major stumbling block since being appointed Springbok coach earlier this year, with the revelation of a public stand-off over how much money the players will be paid.
Rugby365 can reveal that, for the first time ever, the five South African franchises are demanding to be reimbursed by the South African Rugby Union when players are called up to the national team.
This has resulted in a stand-off between the South African Rugby Players Association, which represents the interests of all professional rugby players in South Africa, and SARU over how much the players will receive.
SARPA confirmed in a statement that the remuneration of Springbok players for 2012 remains “unresolved” and will now be referred to final and binding arbitration.
Mediation, which took place earlier this week under the auspices of Advocate Nic Treurnicht, was unsuccessful and no agreement could be reached.
Piet Heymans, the SARPA Chief Executive, told this website in an interview, that the previous “compensation model” for the national team players came to end in 2011.
“Although we came to an agreement about the amount available to the Springboks, the franchises are now demanding a cut of that [when the Boks are on national duty],” Heymans told this website.
This is the first time franchises are demanding to be reimbursed and with the Boks away from their unions and franchises for about three months, it will have a serious impact on their earning power with the national team.
Many of the players expected to be involved with the national team had signed contracts with their franchises before they realised this financial bomb would hit them and they are now tied into those contracts.
The SARPA boss said he found it surprising that the franchises can wield so much power over SARU.
It is not the kind of issues the new Bok coach, Meyer, needed at the start of his four-year tenure.
“It is disappointing that the dispute could not be resolved at mediation and that it need to be referred to arbitration,” said Heymans, who added that the dispute is not about more money for the national team, but how the agreed budget should be divided.
“We have an agreement on the amount available for the remuneration of the Springbok players in 2012, but there is a dispute about the allocation now that the franchises are demanding a cut. It is therefore not a case of wanting more money, but how to divide the amount agreed upon.”
Heymans felt it is of utmost importance that the matter is resolved before the three-match Test series against England in June.
“This is a crucial year for the Springboks, with a new management team, and it’s important for players to be happy on and off the field.
“We are hoping that the arbitration can take place during the second part of May and that we can have finality before the start of the test series against England.”
SARU CEO Jurie Roux was confident that the stand-off would be resolved “soon”.