SA deters foreign players

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The Independent Online
The South African Rugby Football Union, which is hoping to prevent northern hemisphere players from heading south in their off-season, has decided foreigners must wait six months before joining provincial sides.

The move, agreed to at a weekend executive committee meeting, means few foreign players would compete in South Africa's Currie Cup provincial competition in 1996. Several, including Thierry Lacroix and Olivier Roumat, played for South African sides this year, the two Frenchmen proving crucial to Natal's victorious Currie Cup campaign. In future, they would have to wait six months from their date of arrival in South Africa.

The decision, which followed a recommendation by the International Rugby Football Board, also included imposing a limit of two foreign players on each provincial side.

Sarfu's chief executive, Edward Griffiths, said the new regulations were designed to discourage so-called "12-month players" who get a full year of rugby by moving between the northern and southern hemispheres. "Any player who plays under the auspices of any other national union - with the exception of Namibia and Zimbabwe - after 1 January 1996, must stand down for a period of 180 days before being eligible to play any provincial or international rugby under the auspices of Sarfu," Griffiths said.

Bath have appointed the former England flanker John Hall as their first full-time director of rugby. So far this season, he has not been paid for his managerial efforts, but the club's management committee have decided to change that.

A spokesman for Bath, Ken Johnstone, said: "They were unanimous in their decision to make this appointment. John Hall now takes responsibility for all aspects of playing activity."

Hall, 33, captained Bath to three trophies in two seasons, but he retired at the end of last season, after missing the Pilkington Cup final with a knee injury that cost him numerous England appearances.

Rated the top flanker in England for a decade, he won only 21 caps after making his international debut in 1984.