Rassie Erasmus needs to take a fast and hard look at removing South Africa's salary cap, if he want's to see more of his beloved Boks grazing at home on South African fields. The current model is not only counter productive but unsustainable too. SARU can't be allowed to sit and complain about the weakness of the rand making it impossible to retain players, when their policies are ensuring the clubs couldn't pay for them, even if they were willing and able to.
The salary cap was marginally increased to R65.5 million (3.2 million pounds ) in order to help the big four franchises cope with the demands of playing both Currie Cup and the United Rugby Championship at the same time this year. It was a marginal increase from the R61 million in 2021. A further increase in 2023, will see the cap raised to R67.2 million. Is this enough though if we want to retain our talent? The answer is a resounding no.
R65.5 million may sound like a hefty number, but one must also realise that this is supposed to cover a squad of 50 players. If each player were to receive the same salary, it would work out to only R1.3 million per player. Whilst I am not suggesting that each player currently earns this, some get a bigger piece of the pie than others. I can assure you Etzebeth wasn't lured home to the Sharks for nothing in comparison to his lucrative French contract.
A prime example of this is Warrick Gelant's recently announced departure from the Stormers, with the full back set to move to France. His deal is worth a reported R7.7 million, the Stormers never stood a chance at retaining him. Complaints about player salary and the weakness of the rand are nothing new to South African's. It's been a struggle for as long as I can remember, we just simply cant compete with the likes of France, Japan and the UK, simple.
But what if we could? The Bulls were the first to see the benefits of a hefty cash injection from their new Billionaire shareholders, Patrice Motsepe and Johan Rupert. Jake White went on a recruiting spree and now boasts a number of top tier players on his books at Loftus.
More recently the Sharks struck up an agreement which saw MVM Holdings take a controlling stake in the franchise along with an agreement with Jay-Z owned Roc Nation. The Durbanite's managed to snap up a number of key Springboks in the likes of Kolisi, Mbonambi and Etzebeth, whilst similarly retaining Am, Mapimpi, Kolisi, Nkosi and Fassi. The financial backing means the teams have a fighting chance to retain and lure high profile players, in turn bolstering their squad and their brand at large.
It is the Stormers own fault that they missed their shot with MVM Holdings, but they and the Lions should undoubtedly seek out similar investors and collaborations to ensure their own entities longevity. The injection of cash, ultimately means the teams can afford to fight off the bids from foreign lands when they come knocking for their stars.
The obvious counter productive measure to this though, is the salary cap. Rassie remove it and fast. If these side's can spend their money, we will be able to lure more players home, improve the quality of the team and ultimately put more bums in the seats. I for one am more inclined to watch a Springbok laden Sharks team take on a Springbok laden Bulls team than what we were becoming used to in previous years.
The salary cap whilst protecting the smaller unions and their ability to compete, doesn't outweigh the harm caused when the sides who do have the finances are forbidden to use them. Its self-defeating from the get go and needs to be put aside for the greater quality of the South African game. This is professional sport, the players have limited career spans and it's high time we started to take a proactive stance.