The Stormers have insisted they will fight to keep hold of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cobus Wiese and Jean-Luc du Plessis despite all three players submitting contract termination notices before the May 14 deadline. 

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In a lengthy statement, Western Province Rugby said: “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.”

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World Rugby player of the year du Toit has been at the centre of the most high profile tug of war sparked by the introduction of 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 remains determined to hold on to the trio.  

“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,” continued their statement, claiming the future was bright at the Cape Town franchise.

“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.

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“Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, WP Rugby had confirmed that it will bid farewell to prop Wilco Louw and full-back Dillyn Leyds, who had both reached agreements with European clubs to leave at the conclusion of the 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.”

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