- Former Scotland No 8 Josh Strauss says he believes rugby unions should be privately owned.
- This comes after a potential move to Western Province and the Stormers fell through.
- Strauss adds that he struggles to understand why WP Rugby is reluctant to accept a deal with an overseas investor.
Former Scotland No 8 Josh Strauss says he believes rugby unions should be privately owned.
The 34-year-old, who played 24 Tests for Scotland between 2015 and 2019, returned to South Africa at the beginning of the year where he signed a deal with the Bulls.
However, he was one of the players released by the Bulls when Jake White arrived as director of rugby during the Covid-19 lockdown.
In an interview with Sport24, Strauss revealed that he was close to signing a deal with the Stormers but it fell through due to financial constraints.
From a financial perspective, Strauss says the union would be better off if it was privately owned - and believes that should be the case with all unions.
"I trained for free with the Stormers for a month during Super Rugby Unlocked and originally there was chat about a contract. I started my career with Boland and it would have been special to join. However, it was just one of those situations where everything that could go wrong for me went wrong (in terms of earning a playing contract).
"The Springboks were supposed to play in the Rugby Championship and that's when WP Rugby got in contact and told me they were going to contract me. As we know, that didn't happen, but John Dobson (Stormers and WP coach) asked me to stay on because he still wanted to keep me somehow.
"Then it all came down to the equity deal happening (which hasn't yet been agreed) and it all went on too long to earn a playing contract... I have always been a big believer that a club should be privately owned. I think the South African rugby unions could be a helluva lot stronger if they were all privately owned," he said.
Strauss said he found it odd that WP Rugby was seemingly reluctant to accept help from an overseas investor.
"I'm not that clued up with what's going on off the field at WP. However, I've heard things have been boycotted and now it's a back and forth. I don't have the financial statements in front of me, but reading between the lines I don't think things are going brilliantly financially for the union.
"I don't really see why they wouldn't take the investment deal. WP is a great union and Cape Town is a beautiful city. It should be one of the greatest places in the world to play rugby, but for it to work you need the financial side to be right."
Meanwhile, Strauss added that he enjoyed his stay at the Bulls and harboured no ill feelings towards the Pretoria franchise.
"I loved my stint with the Bulls and would probably class it as one of my favourite times playing rugby. Pote Human (then Bulls coach) made my time at the Bulls exceptional. It's probably a bit cheesy to say, but I fell in love with him from day one. I really enjoyed him and he felt like a father figure to me.
"I was lucky enough to be in the leadership group and I saw how he cared. He tried to look after every player and, at times, to his own detriment because you can’t keep everyone happy. I have great respect for the way he treated me personally... It's a blanket statement to say it should be family first. As an older player, it makes sense for me to be family first and I believe you have to get that side right. Most players have an emotional bond to their family and if you are happy in that sense you are going to be happier in general and, my opinion, that will show on a rugby field. I didn’t know that Duane Vermeulen has been living in the hotel next to Loftus and has hardly been able to see his wife and kids. That's the reason I left Pretoria.
"To be fair, I wasn’t too clued up with what was going on when Jake White came in. There was talk in the press about players getting cut left, right and centre. There was the stress of contemplating, 'Am I one of the players to get cut?' I had just arrived and while I luckily wasn't one of the players who were on the chopping block in the end, the dynamic of being able to come home often changed.
"I have no bad feelings or ill will towards anyone at the Bulls and the decision rested on wanting to spend more time with my family. The team has played really well under White and all credit to them as they deservedly won Super Rugby Unlocked."
- Compiled by Sport24 staff