CAPE TOWN, June 22 (Reuters) - South Africa and Stormers loose forward Duane Vermeulen has received an unusually harsh public dressing down after he signed for French Top 14 side Toulon last week without the knowledge of his current employers.
Vermeulen, who missed the 39-19 Super Rugby qualifier defeat to the ACT Brumbies on Saturday with a neck injury, was pictured on Toulon's Twitter feed being unveiled to the French media after signing a three-year deal last Thursday.
Stormers management and coach Allister Coetzee had no knowledge of his French expedition and were left red-faced when shown the images by media assembled for a press conference.
Gert Smal, director of rugby at the Cape Town-based Western Province union, met with Vermeulen on Monday and did not mince his words.
“I was extremely disappointed in Duane's actions. He is a senior and respected player in our squad and, most importantly, he is our captain,” Smal said in a statement from Western Province Rugby.
“Not only did he let his team mates down in a very important game week, but he let down his coaches, the union, our stakeholders and, crucially, our supporters too.
“I had a sit down with Duane this morning and he knows in no uncertain terms that his actions were not acceptable.
“But I have accepted Duane's side of the story and his apology too. He will also be disciplined internally by us.”
Vermeulen says he believed he was in France for a medical only and was surprised to be paraded in front of the media.
“I was initially meant to undergo a medical at Toulon and return to Cape Town by Saturday morning to undergo a final medical check in the case of the Stormers progressing to the Super Rugby semifinals,” he said.
“When I arrived in France, however, I found myself in the middle of an unexpected press conference, which, it turns out, was to be my unveiling to the local media - despite there being a confidentially clause surrounding my move.
“This is certainly something that I will be taking up with my agent.”
Vermeulen is the reigning South Africa Rugby Player of the Year and will be a big part of the Springboks plans at the World Cup in England later this year.
Original source: Stormers to discipline Vermeulen