The Stormers have won their fight to keep hold of Pieter-Steph du Toit, the 2019 World Rugby player of the year. The Springboks back row, along with Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis, had submitted a contract termination notice to the club before the May 14 deadline for South Africa Rugby’s industry salary plan (ISP) to deal with the repercussions of Covid-19.
A 21-day window was created which allowed for players and staff to cancel their current contracts with immediate effect. However, while Montpellier target du Toit, Sale prospect Wiese and du Plessis each expressed their desire to leave, WP Rugby remained determined to hold on to the trio and they have now won their battle for du Toit.
A statement released by the club on Wednesday read: “World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit has withdrawn the contract termination notification submitted last week and committed his future to Western Province Rugby.
“This contract extension means that du Toit will remain with the DHL Stormers until at least the end of the British and Irish Lions tour next year and will receive the same salary reduction as his team-mates, as per the rugby industry’s financial impact plan.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, resultant suspension of rugby, 21-day transfer window and impact on player remuneration saw an increased period of uncertainty for rugby in general and has resulted in a number of unintended consequences.
“Du Toit indicated he was always intent on staying in the Cape and continuing his career with the DHL Stormers. The board and team management decided that it was in the interest of both Western Province Rugby and South African rugby to pursue this goal and to find a way for the World Cup winner to stay.”
According to board member Andre van der Veen, a lot of hard work was put in to reach this conclusion. “Pieter-Steph wanted to stay at Western Province Rugby. He is a true team man, who is integral to our plans at Western Province Rugby. We committed to find an equitable solution for him and the entire team and we are pleased to be able to officially confirm it,” he said.
Stormers coach John Dobson added: “Pieter-Steph is an important team member, his extraordinary work-rate coupled with his ball carrying skills, makes our forward pack even more formidable.
“The rehabilitation on his injury is progressing well and we are looking forward to seeing him in a DHL Stormers jersey again when we get back on the field. Not only is this good for the DHL Stormers and Western Province Rugby, but it is also good for South African rugby that we have kept such prominent players in the country, looking ahead at the post-pandemic rugby offering and market.
“We are proud as a Union of our achievement of contracting eight Rugby World Cup winning Springboks in the province and keeping them in the country,” said Dobson.
With the majority of the DHL Stormers squad now confirmed, the focus shifts back to rugby and ensuring that the players are able to fulfill their considerable potential as a unit, once it is safe for rugby to eventually resume.
“With this period of uncertainty now behind us, we have managed to navigate this period relatively unscathed. We hope rugby will be able to resume as soon as safely possible, so that the faithful and the rugby public can enjoy seeing this special group of athletes play rugby. Our efforts are now focused on conditioning and training, to ensure that we are rugby ready.”
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