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The wild regret of the last goodbye

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Springboks, Super Rugby on 15 Jun 2015 at 14:39
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

I’m not sure if it was just me, but did anyone else find the post-match scenes from Kings Park on Saturday night rather disturbing? I’m referring, of course, to the shots of visibly distressed Sharks stalwarts Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis breaking down in tears as they bade farewell to the Sharks faithful at Kings Park.

Emotion is never far from the surface at a time like this, but I’m really battling to reconcile what I saw on Saturday with the picture that’s been painted. More so what the brothers (and Bismarck in particular) have said during the week, speaking of clear regret at their impending departure and revealing that Durban is the only place they really want to play.

Something doesn’t add up here. If these two players are so passionate and committed about playing for the Sharks, then why are they leaving? “Words are wind”, as a favourite author of mine likes to say, but neither of the du Plessis brothers is a good enough actor to pull off the sort of emotional outpouring we saw on Saturday without there being genuine feeling behind it. No, call me naive if you will, but I cannot believe that there is not a genuine desire on the part of these two players to continue playing in black and white after this year’s World Cup.

So if it’s not desire, then it must be money, right? I mean, I can have all the desire in the world to do a particular job, but if the pay doesn’t stack up, then it’s not going to happen. Unless the brothers have a deal from Montpellier that is big enough that it simply swamps any other considerations (including their known distaste for head coach “Monsieur Blanc”), then I can’t see why it would be completely inconceivable for them to stay. After all, Beast Mtawarira (we’re told) is likely to remain in Durban and clearly a plan is being made to accommodate his demands.

The backdrop to my question here is the newly-agreed central contracting model that SARU is putting in place for top Bok players (which was reported in Rapport recently). In a nutshell, this model will see the national body pick up the majority of the tab for senior Boks (like Bismarck and Jannie), with the figure being as high as 70%. Let’s assume that these guys are worth something like R6-7m each per year; under the new model, the Sharks could have them for somewhere around R2m a year, with SARU paying the rest. That surely has to be less money than they’re costing on their current deals – surely? Obviously if the market value is higher, the Sharks’ portion will be too but basic maths dictates that they must be able to earn roughly the same as they are now, in total, with the Sharks having to pay less of it.

So if this isn’t about money (unless it is and I’m just misunderstanding the figures) then what is it about? Is there some other factor that we’re not aware of that it forcing the hand, either of the Sharks or of the du Plessis brothers? In order for a business transaction to take place, you need to have a willing buyer and a willing seller. Which party is unwilling in this case? And why?


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