Rugby 11.5.2017 08:52 am

Bryan Habana: Politics, not just cash, makes players leave

Bryan Habana wants people to understand the complexity of a local player leaving SA>
 Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images for Land Rover.

Bryan Habana wants people to understand the complexity of a local player leaving SA> Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images for Land Rover.

The Springbok legend says local players are wary of things like crime when they make a decision to move overseas.

Bryan Habana believes it’s not just a favourable exchange rate that is making local rugby players leave overseas in droves.

Instead, the Springbok legend – currently playing for French giants Toulon – points to South Africa’s political uncertainty as a major factor.

Also read: Springboks draw All Blacks for World Cup but it’s actually okay

World Rugby, the sport’s international governing body, on Wednesday changed residency qualification rules in order to discourage players from switching nationalities.

A player will now need to wait five years.

However, Habana says that won’t stop the bleeding.

“I think a lot of people outside South Africa don’t understand that there are a number of unique things happening in South Africa at the moment,” he was quoted as saying by AAP.

“Not only from a rugby point of view, but from a political, economic and safety point of view. A lot people think rugby players go overseas to gain money, to gain a residency in another country. But there are so many different factors which people take into consideration.”

The Bok winger, who has scored a record 65 Test tries, is the second South African player to cite crime as a major factor in the exodus.

Richardt Strauss, cousin of former national captain Adriaan, recently slammed South Africa’s “dangerous” environment.

“I’m so scared of going back and waiting for something to happen,” he told The Times in London.

“If a violent crime happens it’s too late, isn’t it? It’s too late to make a decision then. My family have been lucky.”

Strauss qualified for Ireland in late 2015 and plans to stay an Irish resident.

Habana, however, is far more diplomatic.

He fully supports the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru) transformation drive.

Yet he’s also realistic about how other perceive the process.

“A lot of youngsters might move given the transformation charter which has been put down from a political point of view,” said Habana.

“It’s such an intricate thing that if you don’t come from South Africa then you’ll never understand it. When these youngsters move, it’s not just about leaving South African shores, it’s about taking your future into consideration.”

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