How do South Africa’s franchise teams play in two professional leagues with a cap of 45 players each, feed the Springboks in 14 tests while also losing players to the national Under-20 side?
And if a solution is found, what will it cost them?
These are probably the main concerns of the CEO’s and management of South Africa’s top four franchises.
Fourteen tests, the four-weekend Junior Springboks competition in June, the Currie Cup series as well as the new PRO16 competition will put great pressure on the Top Four to perform.
Losing players to the national side by all four the franchises as well as the Cheetahs are a given. How many, the selection policy driven by the bigger than ever squads will determine.
It is a given that the six-match Rugby Championship, playing twice at home before embarking on an Australasian journey for two tests against each of Australia and New Zealand, will be loaded beyond the norm.
How many? Who knows!
But then, from the remainder of their meagre 45-player squad allowance, the franchises will have to select squads, or at least weekly teams, for the Currie Cup series and the PRO16 competitions.
The first round of the Currie Cup will probably start on 19 June, the day when the final between the Rainbow SA and Rainbow Europe winners take place.
The first round of the PRO16 (the PRO14 minus the Cheetahs and Southern Kings plus the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions, will probably kick off at the beginning of August). The competition will continue throughout the Festive season at end December and the New year weekend.
It seems a certainty that the Top Four franchises will have to enter into short-term/loan players contracts with players from other franchises such as the Pumas and Griquas at an additional cost to themselves. A few Under-20s could perhaps also play at an elevated level, and a very few club players may also be roped in.
But there is a problem …