Sharks players that are suspended from rugby because of foul play will now be docked their wages.
This was the no-nonsense resolution passed at a meeting of the Board of the Sharks Directors at Kings Park yesterday.
The notorious disciplinary record of the Sharks in Super Rugby this year – three red cards and three yellows – was high on the agenda and the Board has shown firm leadership in clamping down on the issue by warning the players that they will be hit where it hurts most if they irresponsibly transgress – in their pockets.
Chairman of the Board Stephen Saad told The Mercury that the Board agree fully with the public that the reckless behaviour of some of the players is intolerable. Saad went further and said that the suspensions given to the players by organising body SANZAR is not enough.
“We have decided that going forward there must be a policy of ‘no pay for no play’ should a player be suspended for foul play,” said Saad, who is one of the country’s leading captains of industry with his pharmaceutical company, Aspen.
Saad said this would be a prerequisite in future player contracts at the Sharks and that the current players would be “asked” to have the clause accepted into their contracts.
“The Sharks Board agree that red cards and dirty play cannot be condoned and it is unacceptable that this behaviour be associated with the Sharks brand,” Saad said. “We endorse the executive management’s suggestion that the current censure (suspension from playing) is inadequate and can confirm that further sanction on the players has been taken over and above that served from SANZAR.
“To this end we consulted legal counsel with regarding ‘no play-no pay’ for red cards,” he continued. “We feel this new censure is appropriate and will have the necessary teeth.”
The Sharks have lost senior players in Bismarck du Plessis (four weeks for a kick to the head), Frans Steyn (five weeks for a tip tackle) and Jean Deysel (seven weeks for a knee to the head) plus have had three other sinbinned.’
Jean Deysel sent off during the Crusaders game in Durban on Easter Saturday
As it stands, the suspended players are on full pay. It is known that senior Springbok can earn up to R500 000 a month from provincial and national contracts, a fortune however you look at it but particularly if he is idle at home because of a reckless act on the field.
It is not going to happen again at the Sharks.
The three afore-mentioned players are part of the seven-man player leadership group and all have captained the team, and with another member of the group, Patrick Lambie, injured for six weeks, the impact of the suspensions has surely been keenly felt by the squad and the coaching staff, who count on the support of the leadership group.
But it was not all doom and gloom at the meeting. Saad said the good news was that there has been a financial recovery over the last year or so under CEO John Smit.
“At the KZNRU AGM the consolidated accounts showed a financial turnaround of nearly R22 million in a single year,” he said. “The largest part of this turnaround can be attributed to the Sharks’ financial improvements. John has not only managed his expenses well and implemented the needed governance but has been instrumental in driving the sponsorship revenue.
“This was sorely needed to underpin the investment we need to make in our squad to help impact the future strength of Sharks rugby.”
The Sharks face a must-win game against the Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday. They have slipped to ninth on the overall standings and have lost their last two games.
“On the rugby front the Board recognises that we are not where we would like to be but need to acknowledge that John and his team in less than two years have won a Currie Cup, been in a Currie Cup semi-final with a very young squad and topped the SA Conference in Super Rugby last year for the first time.”
by Mike Greenaway
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