Western Province Rugby in South Africa have confirmed that reigning World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has requested the termination of his contract with the union. The World Cup-winning Springbok back row was recently linked with a move abroad to Montpellier.
The French club have vehemently denied that they had made an offer to du Toit, stating that the club was “in no way engaged in any negotiations with this player.”
The announcement comes after the expiration of SA Rugby’s 21-day window where players and staff could cancel their current contracts with immediate effect and opt out of their respective contracts.
The clause was agreed by the SA Rugby Industry, MyPlayers and the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO) last month as part of SA Rugby’s efforts to cut costs in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.
A further complication in the clause stipulated that the franchises were not allowed to make counter-offers for their players – a ruling that caused much heartache for local coaches and administrators.
It has now been revealed by WP Rugby that du Toit is among a group of three players to ask to be allowed to depart the union. The other players are flanker Cobus Wiese, who has since joined English Premiership club Sale Sharks, and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, who is reportedly headed for Japan.
Western Province Rugby, which is represented in Super Rugby by the Stormers, confirmed that the majority of their squad, including Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, have committed to remaining in Cape Town.
An official statement by the union read “There were just three players – Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis – who submitted termination notices before the deadline on May 14.
“As previously indicated by WP Rugby, the existing contracts between the players and the Company are considered as binding and WP Rugby has reserved the right to hold players to these contracts or exercise other rights that may be held.
“These options will be discussed with the players that have purportedly canceled their contracts and more information about the course of action will be provided in the future.”
It now remains to be seen if du Toit negotiates a new deal with Western Province Rugby or opts for a move elsewhere.
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