Matfield: ‘I have not signed yet’




The Blue Bulls Company Pty (Ltd) (BBC), the commercial arm of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union (BBRU), has denied that they have already lost the services of new Springbok captain Victor Matfield.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the BBC announced that they would be meeting with Matfield early next week to discuss his negotiations with the French Second Division club, Toulon.

This follows the decision by the ambitious French club, Toulon, to announce that Matfield – who will captain the Boks against the All Blacks in Durban on Saturday – had already signed a two-year deal to join them after the World Cup.

If, as the club reports, he has taken up their offer, Matfield will join illustrious names such as All Blacks Tana Umaga, Anton Oliver (not confirmed yet) and Andrew Mehrtens, along with former Wallaby captain George Gregan, at the French outfit.

Rugby Club Toulonnais, also known as RC Toulon or just Toulon, revealed on Wednesday that they had won the race – for Matfield’s signature – against several French Top 14 outfits, including Paris outfit Stade Fran’ais.

Toulon, who currently play in the French Second Division (Pro D2 ), just below the Top 14, finished fourth in their league – behind Auch, Dax and La Rochelle – and are working hard to get back into the Top 14.

As part of this drive they have signed a number of high profile players – including Matfield, Umaga, Oliver, Mehrtens and Gregan.
They are being coached by Tim Lane, a former assistant coach of both the Springboks and Wallabies.

Toulon announced Matfield’s arrival in banner headlines on its official website.

However, the BBC company, in its statement on Thursday, said Matfield confirmed that he is “still busy” with negotiations, but as yet has not contractually committed himself in any way to Toulon.

“Although Matfield’s agent Jason Smith was quoted in a newspaper article on Thursday that Matfield signed a letter of intent with Toulon the player has given the BBC the assurance that it is not the case,” the Bulls said in the statement.

They went on to say that Matfield told the BBC he would make a decision only after his meeting with Heyneke Meyer and the BBC early next week.

Barend van Graan, the acting CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, said on Thursday that the Bulls would do everything in their power to keep Matfield available for the Bulls and the Springboks.

The company also issued a statement on the movement of other Blue Bulls players.

* Gary Botha (who will start his first Test for the Boks on Saturday) is under contract until the end of October 2007 and several French and UK Clubs have shown interest in him.

His agent, Peet van Zyl, confirmed that Botha was considering several lucrative offers, but has not yet committed himself other than to do his best for the Springboks in their bid to win the Tri-Nations and World Cup titles.

* According to Peter Schultz, Pedrie Wannenburg’s agent, a number of French and UK Clubs have approached them.

Said Schultz: “Pedrie is still in a contract until the end of October 2008 and requests to release him earlier from his contractual obligations have been denied by the Blue Bulls Company. Pedrie is very happy at the Bulls and respect the terms and conditions of his contract.”

* Francois van Schouwenburg is still in a contract with the Blue Bulls Company until the end of October 2007. His agent Jason Smith confirmed that French Clubs have shown interest in him but nothing has been concluded as yet.

“It is obviously the price of our continued success and it remains a challenge to keep our top players and we will do our best to do so,” Van Graan said.

“It is a harsh reality however, that we cannot compete with the much stronger Euro [European currency]. It must be seen as a compliment that our players are in such high demand and such a sought-after commodity.”


365 Digital

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