Erasmus, the current Director of Rugby at SA Rugby, was speaking at a South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO) workshop, the representative council of the professional and amateur rugby employers in South Africa.
“I urge you to not give a weak youngster hope that he can become a professional rugby player.
Rassie Erasmus also highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the player contracting systems currently in place in France, England and Ireland.
Erasmus, who also previously coached Munster, said that in Ireland especially, clubs are loath to pay a player who they know won’t make it as a professional, or who won’t attract fans or viewership.
“I think we [SA] think that professional players are players who fill a team. My understanding is that it’s irresponsible to just pay a player who people don’t want to see play … other than his girlfriend, and mother and father,” Erasmus added.
“He isn’t good enough to attract spectators or play in a professional competition. So why are we paying this player?
“Why are there so many players? Is it because we aren’t doing our homework before we sign them? Here, I include myself. I’m not pointing a finger. I’m actually pointing four fingers back at myself.”
Quality over quantity – Rassie Erasmus
Erasmus added that SA unions need to value quality over quantity as the country doesn’t have enough really good players to justify paying more than are deserving.
“I’m pleading with you to think about this because I want us to win the Rugby Championship. We need to stop with this commercial farming mentality that we must have 80 good players on the field, but only think that two or three can do the job,” Erasmus added.
“I’m also not saying we must just have 50 players. You can have 60 players, but let’s please not be paying players who don’t deserve to be professional players.”
Former UCT Ikeys, Western Force and Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels took to Twitter to post a related message to what Erasmus was saying.
Wessels wrote: “I don’t think every parent whose kid picks up a guitar thinks they will be the next Keith Richards. But watching some u15a this morning, the same doesn’t seem to be true of parents of kids who pick up a rugby ball thinking they got the next Beauden Barrett.”