Western Province Rugby’s players have committed to an exciting future under the leadership of a strong management team led by inspirational Head Coach John Dobson and World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi. The squad includes seven Springboks along with exciting up-and-coming players, and puts WP Rugby in a strong position coming out of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 cancelled their contracts and more information about the course of action will be provided in future.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, WP Rugby had confirmed that it will bid farewell to prop Wilco Louw and fullback Dillyn Leyds, who had both reached agreements with European clubs to leave at the conclusion of the Vodacom Super Rugby season. The contracting strategy and squad system has enabled WP Rugby to make provision for these departures and will provide the opportunity for younger players to develop their skills. Both Louw and Leyds have been loyal and valuable players for WP Rugby and we thank them for the pleasure that they have provided to the Faithful.
The senior squad has been bolstered by the news that the talented young trio of Rikus Pretorius, Tristan Leyds and Paul de Wet have all signed contract extensions.
In addition to the news confirmed last week that top junior players Kade Wolhuter and Keke Morabe have signed contracts with WP Rugby, top schoolboy talents Connor Evans and Sacha Mngomezulu have also since committed to playing in the Cape.
Given the unique challenges posed by the pandemic and suspension of rugby, WP Rugby has implemented training and conditioning programs during lockdown to ensure that the squad will be ready to play at an even higher level when rugby commences. Not only have the players been physically active, but have also embarked on a comprehensive skill development programme to improve our analysis of the game and to improve key areas. We are very excited about this program and believe that these efforts will bear fruit on the field in the near future.
WP Rugby is fortunate to have one of the best player leadership groups in world rugby, led by Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and the likes of other senior players such as Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi. This leadership group will be instrumental in ensuring that the talented younger players in the squad adapt quickly to the requirements of Vodacom Super Rugby and display the exciting skills that they are capable of.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required that plans be adjusted both on and off the field, and this time has been used to ensure that the alignment of WP Professional Rugby and all its stakeholders is in place. WP Rugby continue to receive the backing of title sponsor DHL, associate sponsors including Brightrock, BLK, Crown National, Wintergreen and our commercial partners. The shareholder Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) has unreservedly committed to these plans and we are fortunate that the country’s most comprehensive amateur rugby programme, managed by the Union, is increasingly being aligned with the systems and processes used by the professional rugby organisation. The province’s school rugby system is the strongest in South Africa, and the envy of world rugby, and continues to provide our senior and junior teams with a very strong talent pipeline.
The 2021 move to Cape Town Stadium remains on track, and while everyone is sad to say goodbye to DHL Newlands, the opportunity to deliver an exceptional matchday experience in a truly world class environment is extremely motivating. Watching rugby at Cape Town Stadium will become one of the must-see experiences in world rugby, just as DHL Newlands has been. The experience will attract not only rugby fans, but sport fans in general who want a unique experience.
WP Rugby remains extremely well positioned and is looking forward to starting to play again and to delivering the exciting rugby that the Faithful have come to expect.