22 May 2020
You can’t blame Pieter-Steph du Toit for securing himself a better deal with WP Rugby, writes RugbyRocks.com's editorial director.
Du Toit and his agent played a clever game when they terminated his WP contract just before the 21-day transfer deadline.
The 27-year-old had reportedly been offered a mega-deal from French club Montpellier, while there was also interest from Japanese clubs, so it put the ball firmly in WP’s court.
While WP were unable to offer Du Toit a bigger salary, due to the rugby industry’s collective bargaining agreement, it could agree to his image rights demand.
The image rights of South Africa’s 717 professional rugby players are held by MyPlayers, with SA Rugby paying the players organisation R90-million a year for them.
By separating his image rights from his salary terms, Du Toit will be paid every time SA Rugby, WP Rugby or a sponsor uses his image, while he can pursue other lucrative personal deals.
This revenue stream will more than make up for what he is set to lose from a salary cut, so while he withdrew his contract termination notification and remains on the same salary with WP, he has got a bigger deal.
You can understand if some players feel Du Toit unfairly exploited a loophole to effectively avoid a salary cut, but I don’t think you can hold it against him.
Through his on-field performances, Du Toit earned himself the World Rugby Player of the Year award, big offers from overseas clubs and the right to negotiate the best possible deal for himself in South Africa if he wanted to stay (which he did).
And WP Rugby quite rightly did everything it could to keep its most prized asset (apart from Siya Kolisi, perhaps) in the Cape until at least the end of the British & Irish Lions tour next year.
If bending the rules made that happen, then so be it.