The Arbitrator had been asked to rule in a dispute between SARPA (the South African Rugby Players’ Organisation) and SAREO (the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation). SA Rugby was named as a second respondent in the case.

SARPA asked the arbitrator to rule on a clause in the players’ collective agreement, which defines the terms and conditions of employment of contracted players. SARPA argued that the terms required provinces to simultaneously rest contracted players for eight concurrent weeks in any 12-month period.

SAREO argued that the collective agreement was being misinterpreted and that the resting period did not provide for a rest period for all contracted players at the same time, nor that such rest period had to be compulsorily taken within a 12-month window.

The Arbitrator, Adv IC Brembridge, SC, agreed with SARPA in a draft award that the rest period for all provincial players must occur at the same time, but ruled that there was not a contractual requirement that such rest period must start no later 12 months from the start of the previous rest period.

An SA Rugby spokesperson said that the organisation was consulting with its members as well as SARPA to consider the fixture scheduling implications of the award.