An EPL-style loan system for Super Rugby

AlBo Roar Guru

By AlBo, AlBo is a Roar Guru

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    Throughout this international rugby season there has been one on-field issue that has stood out more than any other: injuries.

    This is the nature of rugby. Sometimes you get lucky and retain the majority of your squad for the season.

    Sometimes you aren’t so lucky, losing not just a large number of players, but perhaps a few big names whose absence can effectively nullify your chances of not only winning, but contending for the finals.

    Some teams survive better in these situations than most. Those with a greater talent pool can usually manage. Others who rely on very few top line players to see them competitive throughout a season are far more vulnerable.

    But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

    There is no absolute solution to this problem. Without the benefit of a draft there is nothing you can do to stack each team with an equal amount of decent players and letting fate sort the rest out.

    Teams like the Western Force will always struggle to lure and retain big name players, and places like NSW will always have the upper hand when it comes to contract negotiation.

    So what can we do to help out teams who may be hamstrung by a dearth of injuries in the middle of the season?

    For years the English Premiere League has allowed for temporary loan transfers of players in the middle of the season. Basically, they are able to loan a second string player or emerging youth player to another team for a limited period of time and for a nominal fee.

    This way clubs who are overly hampered by injuries are able to draw on the resources of bigger clubs without long term contracts, drawn out negotiations, or concerns about players playing out of position or being thrown in the deep end too quickly.

    The great thing about this system is that it benefits both sides.

    The ‘loaner’ gets a small cash injection into the business which would normally not be there. They also allow one of their rising players to get some serious game time and match fitness where it would otherwise not be available.

    They get to see their player perform under top competition pressures and will have a better knowledge of their ability when they return.

    The ‘loanee’ gets a hungry, young (or experienced) player who wants to prove themselves on the field. They don’t have to make room for them in their squad because they are only a temporary stop-gap measure.

    They could be there to cover the bench, or a legitimate starter. They also get to provide an insight to the running and ethos of the club in case this player becomes available or off contract somewhere down the line.

    Are there drawbacks? Possibly. Any decent idea doesn’t come without its risks. The player could be injured while on loan, may resent being loaned out, or the players of the new team could resent the loaned gun coming into the team.

    However if proper rules and regulations are put in place and it’s used in situations where the team is going to seriously struggle without assistance, I don’t see why it couldn’t work.

    With as much rugby as these guys are playing I think we need to look to these sort of solutions.

    It probably won’t help a team win a title but it could help in the development of players and the competitiveness of each team, even at the pointy end of a long, hard season.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • December 8th 2012 @ 4:02am
      Johnno said | December 8th 2012 @ 4:02am | ! Report

      I have said all along , one of the best ways to handle player welfare issues, is foreign imports.
      They can fill in all season or most of season, and allow the star local wallabies to be rested, without compromising standards of our super rugby teams, who otherwise have to rely on local rookies,or locals not up to it we simply don’t have the depth. 5 imports per club is fine, and only allow 1 of each position , at each club. FOr example each club can only sign 1 foriegn prop, or 1 foreign hooker, or 1 foriegn half back.
      And guys like Gareth Delve are very handy 5 like him per team is very handy. Hardened experienced players , who can play most of year,, and allow the star wallabies to be rested and rotated.

    • December 8th 2012 @ 5:01am
      Billy Bob said | December 8th 2012 @ 5:01am | ! Report

      I like both ideas.
      But the original state swapping one of the article, may pose a other one. What about secret lineout, and kick off calls? And backline moves?
      Deception is part of rugby.
      Players ‘on loan’ may be suspected if they are only there for the short term.
      Though I like the idea. It would free up precious talent , presently warehoused with the richer teams.

      • Roar Guru

        December 8th 2012 @ 10:47am
        AlBo said | December 8th 2012 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Absolutely BB. Those sort of risks would be ever present. I guess the team would have to decide if the time and effort to change calls after the player goes home is worth his skill set. I prefer this idea to that of foreign imports because it means our local talent is getting blooded first and foremost.

        • December 8th 2012 @ 6:10pm
          Colvin said | December 8th 2012 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

          I suspect the loan would have to be untill the end of the season. Next season, different calls.

    • December 8th 2012 @ 11:04am
      oldboy said | December 8th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Sounds an awful lot like the National Academy system to me.

      The risks associated with “loaning” out full time professional contracted players far out weighs the benefits. However the ‘semi pro’s’ in the academy system or for example the “Ready Reds” or what ever they are called would be feasible.

      • Roar Guru

        December 8th 2012 @ 2:17pm
        AlBo said | December 8th 2012 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

        That’s the kind of players I had in mind. I certainly don’t think that teams are going to let their fully contracted players on the fringe of selection go to another club but they may have some keen bean training up a storm who they’d like to see perform at top level.

    • December 8th 2012 @ 12:08pm
      Bakkies said | December 8th 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      There have been loan deals in the past. Nathan Charles was loaned to the Force while contracted to the Brumbies and then was turned in to a permanent deal. That’s the positive about it. If a player is not getting game time and is loaned to another team it gives him a chance to see how he fits in to new surroundings before getting in to a longer contracted agreement. Jono Owen was sent down to the Rebels this year while signed to the Brumbies and now he has a contract at the Reds. Owen might be a bit unlucky as he could of got some solid match time had Sanzar allowed the two props on the bench law.

      • Roar Guru

        December 8th 2012 @ 12:44pm
        AlBo said | December 8th 2012 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Good to know Bakkies. I thought that there might have been a couple already but if it was officially recognised as a standard practice then maybe it could get more traction. I hope moving forward that it does so. It’s pretty self regulating. I don’t see it ever getting out if hand.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 8th 2012 @ 12:26pm
      Neuen said | December 8th 2012 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

      This is happening. I know the South African Rugby Union got a player exchange system with several English and Irish clubs where players are loaned and exchanged both ways.

      Normally they loan players out with the option to buy. If I can remember correctly the Stormers loaned Jebb Sinclair in Super Rugby earlier the season.

    • December 8th 2012 @ 12:43pm
      RedsNut said | December 8th 2012 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

      Dearth = scarcity in my dictionary.

      A team with a dearth of injuries is one with a “scarcity” of injuries, so won’t need helping out.

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2012 @ 9:08am
        AlBo said | December 9th 2012 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Thanks RedsNut. I’m sure I meant dearth of players. The article was written in haste at work. Appreciate the feedback.

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