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Rugby Evolution


Welcome to the professional era! Long gone are the days when players must wait for their late thirties to move up North to get a retirement fund if you are in the Southern Hemisphere!

By: Ruggaworld’s Benedict Chanakira(BC)



Youngsters are leaving these shores at the ripe ages of 20-25 when they have had one, two or even half a good season.

Why? Has the desire to play for their countries dies?

The Blues have lost two notable stars recently a certain Charles Piutau and a Frank Saili. Both recently part of the All Black squad and well placed to be regulars in years to come. Players have a drive or impetus to get financial security, getting more game time or looking for a new adventure. Is this all acceptable? Of course it is.

The game is believed to be getting tougher, yet the officiating makes that statement null with players getting penalized for tough ruck challenges and the lot! An injury could cut a career short and its better the players’ cash in now, instead of later.

Careers are getting shorter, whilst offers are getting bigger with Piutau in particular set to earn in the region of $2 million for the two year deal. For Piutau that’s a two year absence from the All Blacks. The New Zealanders, English and Australians are known for their failure to adopt the change in the game by selecting players that ply their trade abroad.

To some extent they are right as you need to show your hunger to don that jersey. New Zealand has managed to vindicate their decision as they continue to be the benchmark in World Rugby.

The powerful TV deal in the Northern hemisphere has seen absorbent salaries become a norm. The French national side in particular is suffering from the influx of foreigners.  The money is a very powerful luring tool.

Loyalty? Passion? Walk in the players’ shoes for a moment. You are getting offered the same job, a new challenge in different environments, with better hours and a much higher salary. Which employee would decline such an offer?  In South Africa in particular the fall of the rand makes a strong case to pack your bags and leave. Some players are not in contention for the Springboks, Wallabies or even All Blacks. So why would you stay around?

Of course the missing your family, friends and culture would be a factor that could affect your choice but it has not fettered the average player.  Who would have thought a player would leave Super Rugby for the Japanese league?

I spoke to a player who was on the fringes of All Black selection, but decided to move north a few years ago. He grew up in a poverty stricken environment and the opportunity to secure security for his family was stronger than the desire to play for the All Blacks or a lifelong dream to be a Super Rugby legend!

The question is; what if the All Blacks selected players abroad? Or what if Australia did the same? They would have players with better all round skills especially their scrimmaging prowess but also they would see a huge player drain in their country (already evident).

An interesting image- Post 2011 I believe highlighted the numbers in World Rugby and it would tell you this! Well it told me this- South Africa should be the one to ignore professionalism and maintain a stance similar to Australia and New Zealand. They have the numbers and it would make their sides stronger.

New Zealand and Australia will need to adopt the professional model soon or face a death to their local game especially Australia! These two however benefit from Fiji and Samoa’s player influx into their countries. In fact players all over the world have taken up the option of adopting a country and playing for it through being nationalised.

While many fans frown over these ‘mixed breeds’ ; it is the new way forward. Using, the so called residency rule. Some notable players include; Tendai Mtawarira, David Pocock, Martin Castrogiovanni and Mike Catt to mention a few. Numbers balance in their own special way. In fact this law has given the power to the player and wealthy nations have taken advantage. Go see how many New Zealanders are in the Japan squad!

Have a look at the image from 2011 and see how the player numbers don’t tell the same story as the rankings. The numbers have not changed much since 2011 as well!



Is South Africa just wasteful?

Are Wales that resourceful?

So New Zealand is really that good?

Are these just numbers that don’t tell the real story? What do you think?

Leave a comment


  1. BC –
    How come if France has a problem with all the foreign rugby players they don’t just say nyet – or whatever no is in French to the waves coming to their shores?
    Maybe not across the board – who after all could deny Le Willie de Sportif – but you know the guys I’m referring to -the 2nd string Cheetah guys from last year etc.
    I don’t get it.

    Bunny – Perhaps an article that is really just an open letter to Marine Le Pen regarding this. Surely she will add to her “to-do” list once she sweeps to power over the Hollandaise fella that is on his way out.

  2. @Americano: The money and the power the clubs have is massive. Rugby is a business and they need to do what It takes to stay in the Top 14. Even the ProD2 has some serious $$$$.

    FFR are making some changes next year, it will be interesting. Expect the days of getting nationalised may be numbered. Fans still split there.

  3. Quantity depth does not equal quality… And RSA suffers the most when one does the numbers and chooses a few Super Rugby teams from ex pats up North and matches them against the current players…

    It’s one of the most damning reasons many of the local ‘stars’ are resting on their laurels with no serious competitors for their starting positions… None more evident than the Sharks currently.

    In my opinion Heyneke Meyer has a lot to answer for by allowing OS players to be selected for the Boks with no more limits it seems. A while back I started a list on this site of potential/current Boks that had/are leavings under his tenure… I cannot find it but that was almost a year ago and I gave up at at least 20.

  4. @bryce_in_oz: Yes, NZ has the quality! – I am also impressed with the fact the NZ dont call on the players abroad. How darn better would they be?

  5. @Morné: I will actually need your help.

    In my opinion The North are catching up fast on us. I would gamble and say England? I am loving their structures and the way their junior set up is set. Brilliant. Their u20s are playing superbly.

    When I look at the u18 compo run after Craven week the SA dominance is worth a mention too.


  6. A look at the SA sides at u18. Looks almost impossible to beat. Their records at SA Schools brilliance that. That progression to JWC u20
    decisive for all

  7. I know it was Eng/SA and NZ/SA in the last two Sanix schools comps but they rarely choose the best schools side it seems… Particularly from an Aussie point of view…

  8. Seems only the Northern Hemisphere has their own u18 yearly comp… England the current holders and ireland runners up… This regular tournament might be the reason England do so well in the U20’s?

  9. @bryce_in_oz:

    To fix senior level surely you must know where it goes wrong?

    I think we have the best schools rugby system in the world, but we rank in my mind in the top 5 only as far as junior High Performance programmes goes, England for me leads the way.

    The gap from U17 to U20 for me is crucial, we are good in parts but not throughout.

    We lose too much at U19 level imo.

  10. @bryce_in_oz:

    Europe gets it very right to have a 6N type tournament every year not only for the seniors, but also young guns players and women’s rugby.

    There is no SANZAR equivalent for this.

  11. @Morné:

    Agreed… I was sure Aus and NZ have a yearly comp too…

    I was wrong about Eng and Ire win in the last comp… It was Fra who won and wait for it… Georgia who came second…

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