Russia Becoming A Viable Alternative For South African Rugby Players

The Russian Rugby Federation recently announced their intentions to bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup and are now opening their doors to foreign players to improve their national team before the 2027 spectacle they hope to host.

Shortly afterwards they relaxed their regulations regarding the maximum foreign players a team may employ. Previously the clubs were only allowed eight foreign players with a maximum of six players allowed on the field of play during a match. An additional two players were recently allowed with the "understanding" that the additional two players allowed will be u/21 and younger players who must "commit" themselves to qualify to represent Russia at the 2027 Rugby World Cup which means a minimum of five years in Russia.

To make it even more attractive for foreign rugby players to move to Russia their income is tax-free, with most clubs also including accommodation and food. Salary packages of R 35 000 per month are not uncommon for the better players at clubs and if tax and other benefits are taken into account it compares quite well with some senior rugby players in South Africa. However, it must be noted that these clubs have become a lot pickier regarding experience and current form when negotiating possible contracts.

A Russian rugby website recently named several South African players currently playing in Russia as possible players who could play for Russia in the near future. Ex Bulls Super Rugby player Franco Naude who recently made the move to Russia is not yet included in the list.

South Africans on the list are: Gihard Visagie, Arnout Malherbe, Stefaan Grundlingh, Francouis Esterhuizen, Clinton Theron, Wynand Grassman, Gunter Janse van Vuuren, Cobus Marais, Leighton Eksteen, Gene Willemse and Nkululeko Ndlove.