SARU announced in February that they had reached an agreement with the five South African Super Rugby teams that they would not select certain players for more than five matches in a row.
Flank Marcell Coetzee, flyhalf Patrick Lambie and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach fall into that category but they have picked for a sixth match in succession for Saturday’s clash with the Waikato Chiefs in Durban.
The Sharks said they cannot be forced into resting players and after a tough start to Super Rugby season, when they lost three of their opening five games, they will risk the ire of SARU.
“SA Rugby has confirmed that the Springbok player management agreement with the South African Super Rugby franchises is not a legally binding understanding. Instead SA Rugby expects them to stick as close to it as possible in the interests of the Springboks,” the Sharks said in a statement.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux said while clubs were encouraged to rest players, he understood that coaches also needed to look after team interests.
“The players are primarily the assets of the Unions and they will have their different dynamics and needs at different stages of the season,” Roux said in a statement.
“We worked towards the understanding to prioritise Springbok readiness for the international season and the Rugby World Cup but we realise it is a balancing act for coaches in terms of juggling their union’s needs and the national interest.
“The important thing for SARU was to take the initiative to try and find a solution to questions relating to player workload. If we get 90 percent compliance during the season it will be a 100 percent improvement on where we were a year ago when no player could expect any break.
“If franchises feel they are unable to stick to the letter of the understanding that is less than ideal but we would expect them to stick as close to it as possible in the interests of the Springboks.”
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)