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Rugby | SA Rugby

Exodus of SA Players slows

The 2017 Player Exodus may not yet be completed but already it looks as if fewer players will be heading abroad this year than last.

An article on Supersport.com last year chronicled the movement of almost 50 South African players heading overseas last season, but so far only 35 confirmed signings have taken place this year.

Of course, this number doesn’t include some players heading back to Japan – like Springboks Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Jaco Kriel for a second season in the Japanese League after their international commitments are over.

The advent of Pro14 rugby seems to have had a minor impact, while the SA Rugby policy of only selecting Springboks who have played more than 30 tests if they are abroad may well also have had a limited impact on the exodus.

However, it is more likely that clubs overseas have targeted specific players, with foreign leagues moving closer to stringent laws that limit the number of foreigners allowed in their leagues, while a number of local players listed below as signed in Japan will head back to South Africa to their respective teams to play in the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The Toyota Cheetahs move into Pro14 has allowed them to keep the bulk of their players, and has seen them bring in a number of Sevens stars and players from the Kings in the post-Super Rugby season, while not losing the normal bulk of their own staff.

But the Kings have been decimated as uncertainty of their future led a number of players to sign contracts overseas, and a number more in South Africa as they looked to find a future for themselves.

There are currently more than 200 players playing abroad in various foreign leagues, and according to a number of the player agents, the current 30-test rule has had little, if any effect on the player movements as such.

Already Springbok players such as Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach, both of whom don’t qualify under that rule, have opted for more lucrative overseas contracts, while Jan Serfontein’s apparent unhappiness at the Bulls has led him to sign with Montpellier.

Of the others who don’t qualify, the only ones who may interest national coach Allister Coetzee are Cheslin Kolbe, Chris Cloete and perhaps Pat Lambie, although it is doubtful if any of these players would warrant a recall given the current outlook in selection from the Bok management.

The Japanese contingent is growing, with Bulls locks RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins and Ruan Combrinck’s move to the Far East the most significant. All of these players will return for Super Rugby though, but in Combrinck’s case, the Boks may well decide to call him up sooner rather than later given his form in the national team when he has played.

Many player agents point to the fact that a number of top Boks have contract renewals coming up in 2018, and that next year, and not this year will be the crucial test for the 30 test rule.

The Boks have already indicated they are not keen on picking from abroad, and given the current processes underway, a new wave of moves overseas – especially in top positions – may well be a big setback ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Player exodus 2017 (clubs who signed these players in brackets)



Tian Schoeman (Bordeaux)

Jan Serfontein (Montpellier)

Renaldo Bothma (Harlequins)

Jacques Potgieter (Munakata Sanix Blues)

RG Snyman (Honda Heat)

Jason Jenkins (Toyota Verblitz)

Francois Brummer (Toyota Shokki)


Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)

Brandon Thomson (Glasgow Warriors *2months)

David Ribbans (Northampton)

Juan de Jongh (Wasps)

Oli Kebble (Glasgow)

Huw Jones (Glasgow)

Brandon Thomson (Glasgow)


Ettienne Oosthuizen (Lyon)

Lourens Adriaanse (Pau)

Pat Lambie (Racing Metro)

Jean Deysel (Ulster)

Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints)


Lourens Erasmus (Doccomo Red Hurricanes)

Ruan Ackermann (Gloucester)

Faf de Klerk (Sale)

Ruan Combrinck (Kintetsu Liners)

Ryan Kankowski (NTT Communications Shining Arcs)


Danie Mienie (Toulouse)

Armandt Koster (Grenoble)

Francois Uys (Grenoble)

Southern Kings

Wandile Mjekevu (Toulouse)

Wilhelm van der Sluys (Exeter Chiefs)

Irne Herbst (Benneton Treviso)

Chris Cloete (Munster)

Schalk van der Merwe (Ulster)

Martin Bezuidenhout (Bourgoin)

Waylon Murray (Macon)

Lionel Cronje (Toyota Verblitz)


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