Super Rugby

Bulls confirm Kotze's exit as salary cuts hit SA rugby

The Bulls have confirmed that centre Johnny Kotze will leave the franchise after putting in a request to exit his contract. 

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There was confusion over the weekend when Rapport reported that Kotze had cancelled his contract in line with the 21-day window that was given to South Africa's professional players to do so. 

South African rugby is understood to be employing wide-ranging pay cuts across the board in an effort to minimise costs, and as a result, professional players have been given three weeks to leave their current contracts if they opt to seek employment elsewhere. 

On Sunday, however, Kotze's agency - One Sport SA - released a statement saying that Kotze had not yet left the Bulls but that he was in discussions with a Japanese club. 

The statement added that Kotze had accepted a contract with the Bulls until 2022 that was "below the current market value". 

When contacted by Sport24 on Monday morning, however, the Bulls confirmed that Kotze would be leaving Loftus. 

"The player’s agent sent through an instruction that Johnny, who is also the chairman from the Bulls' side at the Players Association, would be exercising his right within the 21-day period to leave," a statement read.

"Jake White, the Director of Rugby, accepted and wished Johnny all the best with his decision."

In line with the window that has been granted, players will have until May 14 to exit their current contracts as SA Rugby looks to save as much as R1 billion over the next eight months. 

While lower earning staffers will not have any pay cuts, the higher earners could lose as much as 44% of their current salaries. 

As things stand, it is not clear when professional rugby will return to playing in South Africa. 

The country is currently experience level four of a national lockdown as the fight against the coronavirus continues and, under those guidelines, no organised sport is allowed. 

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard