Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) president Kevin de Klerk has revealed that they released former captain Joshua Strauss so that he could pursue a possible international career with Scotland.
The union announced earlier this week that Strauss, who led the team to the 2011 Currie Cup title, signed a contract with Scottish side Glasgow Warriors.
Twenty-seven-year-old Strauss signed with the Warriors until May 2015, which could open the door for him to gain Scottish citizenship in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
"We identified with Josh's needs as a player going forward," De Klerk said.
"We looked at his potential involvement in SA Rugby going forward and we realised that possibly as international player he would not have cut it here.
"We took into account his request to further his international career with Scotland and also receive a three year contract that would then make him eligible to earn his citizenship as well to then participate in the next World Cup for Scotland."
Strauss is the most high profile player yet to announce his departure from the union.
The GLRU announced at the end of August that props Jacobie Adriaanse and Caylib Oosthuizen and junior locks Paul Willemse and Ruan Botha have not renewed their contracts.
"We are extremely grateful for what he's done here at the Lions, his sentiments as well, he's very grateful for what we've done for him," De Klerk said.
"We've brought Josh from oblivion basically but it's been a reciprocal association.
"We wish him all the best on his next venture overseas and we are sure he will make a success of it."
De Klerk said Strauss' time to play international rugby was running out and they thus afforded him the opportunity to go abroad.
"Joshua is 27-years of age, as a flanker you need to have established yourself pretty well and you need to move on there to go and make your mark in terms of international play," he said.
"He hasn't got many years left as a loose forward."
While his departure is a blow to the team as he could play in a number of forward positions, De Klerk believed the union would be able to find a replacement from within their ranks.
"Fortunately we've got quite an abundance of pretty good loose forwards that could stand in for Josh and probably provide an equivalent," said De Klerk.
"We will take each case on its merits but we are not going to bleed our union dry -- we need a strong core of representation.
He said the bulk of the players were still contracted with the union until the end of 2013.
De Klerk said he was confident that they would be able to retain the players if they gave them alternative competition following the team's relegation from the 2013 Super Rugby competition.
"If we put the right competitions together we would like to extend those for another two years and thereafter," he said.
"There has been a bleeding of players which we very sadly regret and there will be the odd player that will depart the union."