‘No commitment’ from Kolbe to Stormers as Bok star’s camp responds to ‘safety’ concerns | Sport

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  • Cheslin Kolbe’s representatives, Roc Nations Sports, have responded to claims that a move to the Stormers fell through over “safety and security” concerns. 
  • The agency’s president, Michael Yormark, confirms that there were talks between the parties. 
  • Yormark says Kolbe is “happy” at French club Toulon. 

Talks were underway between the Stormers and Cheslin Kolbe’s representatives over a potential return to Cape Town, but they were “preliminary” and there was never any commitment from the Springbok star’s camp. 

That was the clear message from Michael Yormark, president of Roc Nation Sports – the international agency representing the 28-year-old – on Saturday. 

Kolbe, who signed for French giants Toulon from neighbours Toulouse last year, had been linked with a return to the United Rugby Championship champions and the franchise he represented from 2013 to 2017. 

One of the most destructive attackers in the world, a potential move for Kolbe back to the Stormers was always going to be high-profile, and a report on Netwerk24 on Saturday claimed that the Stormers had offered around R55 million over five years to get it over the line. 

The report added that the deal didn’t go through because Kolbe’s camp had expressed concerns over “safety and security” in South Africa. 

“We did have conversations with the Stormers,” Yormark confirmed.

“The conversations were very preliminary and, as you can imagine, as an agency representing athletes all over the world, teams call us all the time and ask about availability, interest etc.

“In the case of Cheslin, there was a strong desire by the Stormers to bring him back home. He is one of the best players in the world, but as we all know, Cheslin is under contract.

“He signed a multi-year agreement with Toulon, and he cannot look at other opportunities at this time, nor would he want to. He loves playing for Toulon, he loves his team-mates, and he loves the organisation. So does Layla [Kolbe’s wife] and the family, and they’re enjoying their lifestyle there.”

Yormark said it was simply “good parenting” for the Kolbes to consider safety concerns.

“I know there have been reports around safety and returning to South Africa. Any parent is always going to be concerned about safety, no matter where they live,” he said. 

“Of course, Cheslin and Layla are going to be concerned about safety, whether in South Africa or France. That’s just something that goes hand in hand with parenting.

“When you talk about having two young girls, and then you think about the concerns around gender-based violence in South Africa, what parent wouldn’t be concerned? For them to be criticised when it relates to the safety of their children is to criticise good parenting.

“If you ask any South African about safety, they would have the same response. I don’t think safety should be an issue that Cheslin, Layla and their family are criticised about. It’s a reality of living in this world.”

Yormark did not go into details of exactly how far the discussions with the Stormers had developed, but he stressed there had been no commitment from Kolbe’s side. 

“I won’t go into detail about how far those conversations went, but they took place and were more conceptual,” he said. 

“There was never a commitment made, nor could there be a commitment made, because Cheslin is under contract.

“The conversations had no timeframe attached to them. This was an idea about Cheslin maybe wanting to continue his career, at some point, in South Africa with the Stormers. Could there be a chapter, at some point, that would include a return to the Stormers? Those were the conversations that were being had.

“Cheslin signed a multi-year agreement with Toulon, and nobody knows what will happen after the contract expires. 

“Could he return to South Africa? Maybe. Does he want to re-sign with Toulon? Maybe. Does he want to play somewhere else to provide the family with another type of experience? Maybe. Those decisions haven’t been made, and he is very happy in Toulon.

“Regardless of what conversations took place and how many, he is under contract at Toulon and that’s where he’s going to be for the next couple of years.”

Kolbe and his entire family are in Cape Town presently, where he is recovering from the jaw injury he picked up in the third Test against Wales last month. 

“Cheslin and Layla and their family love South Africa,” said Yormark.

“It’s their home. It’s where their parents live, it’s where their friends are and it’s where their house is. It’s where they feel most comfortable. It’s their home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be concerned about issues that are impacting the community.

“That’s part of life, and it’s being a good parent.”

Kolbe is contracted at Toulon until the end of the 2023/24 season.



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