Duhan van der Merwe could be first big name to exit Worcester - report
Hulking Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe could be the first big name to leave Worcester Warriors – according to reports from France.
According to French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique, Van Der Merwe is very much on the watch list of French clubs with Worcester in the midst of a financial crisis that could yet see the club go under.
Per the report, Racing 92 are said to be monitoring the situation closely.
The Parisians signed rising rugby league Regan Grace from Super League side St. Helens in July, but he has been ruled out in the medium term after sustaining a dreaded Achilles tendon rupture.
As a result, Racing are now in talks with former England and Wasps flyer Christian Wade. Wade, who has returned following a stint in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, and has been linked with filling in as injury cover for Grace. In France, a club can only sign a medical joker after a player has been out for 3 months.
Wade made a try-scoring cameo for their sevens side this weekend in Pau at the Natixis Sevens, scoring a brace at the invitational event.
Yet it is not hard to imagine that Racing’s heads might be turned by a player of the caliber of Van Der Merwe.
The British & Irish Lions star is Worcester’s highest-paid player, having switched from Edinburgh in 2021. A major weapon for Scotland, the 6’3, 106kg wing also put in a star turn during the Lions tour of South Africa in 2021.
It is unlikely given the salary cap squeeze that any of Worcester’s major stars would be able to find homes at other Gallagher Premiership sides. Deferred payments are not legal in the context of the salary cap scheme and Premiership Rugby sources have more or less ruled out a changing of the salary cap.
Worcester of course could yet well hold on to him and other players tempted to leave. This weekend former CEO Jim O’Toole announced he has submitted a bid “to ensure the long-term sustainability” of the club.
The Irishman has said his plans were dependent on the Premiership club being placed into administration, which would incur an automatic 35-point penalty for the new season.
O’Toole’s statement said: “I can confirm that James Sandford of Atlas SportsTech Limited and I have today submitted a proposal to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) regarding the funding and the future of Worcester Warriors rugby club.”
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