South African Rugby Union on transformation and the EP Kings Franchise: progress report

Sports, Arts and Culture

19 February 2013
Chairperson: Mr R Mdakane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The South African Rugby Union briefed the Committee on the Transformation Indaba Resolutions and the role of the EP Kings Rugby franchise in the transformation project.

Members heard that half-a-billion rands had been spent on transformation and rugby development in the past 20 years. All facets of rugby administration had changed in the past 20 years, such that the pre-1992 demographics were unrecognisable. The next step was aligning SARU’s transformation strategy with government’s national sports and recreation plan. Everything that the Union did was aligned to the plan, and had goals and development in terms of expansion.

The budget for development in 2012 was R72 million, and represented about 10% of the organisation’s turnover. The schools development had been prioritised as the Springbok cradle, otherwise if this was not the case there would be no players.

It was reported that the Schools Rugby Association of South Africa was not aligned in terms of the unions. This was an independent body that made its own constitution and rules, and as a result SARU had no jurisdiction over rugby at schools. Issues of contravention at school matches were handled by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and concerned schools. This was a predicament in terms of the development of the sport at grassroots level. SARU had embarked on a complete transformation process that encompassed all of the aspects in rugby. This process did not only focus on representation at Springbok and provincial levels; if transformation were to occur; it needed to occur on every other level. These included management, diversity, gender, black coaching and refereeing.

The Committee heard that change had to be forced in most unions because the tendency had been to refuse change. People tended to elect the same administrators and executives all the time. The composition of the executives was particularly important; there had to be understanding of why there had to be transformation. Understanding of transformation was the biggest issue and was important in order to ensure diversity.

Members voiced concerns and doubts on whether the objective to have an Eastern Cape based rugby franchise was still on track. The cooperation between government spheres and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) was emphasised. Members voiced disappointment with how the issue of the franchise had been dealt with by the anchor union, the Eastern Province (EP). The also enquires about the Academies established by SARU, the attendance of MECs at the indaba, lotto funding, women’s rugby, schools rugby and representation on and off the field.

The EP Rugby Union told the Committee that black talent left the province as a result of the lack of exposure. The franchise conceded it faced an uphill task. The franchise was given two months to prepare, and could only participate for a one year term. This made it difficult to secure sponsorship.

The Border Rugby Union told the Committee there had been challenges around the Southern Kings agreement and the interpretation of it. Subsequently the EC sport council got involved and a decision was taken two weeks back that there had to be a short and long-term strategy with the Southern Kings.

The South Western Districts Rugby Union concurred with Border and said that the corporate agreement between the three unions was just paper work. The agreement stated the unions were entitled to R250 000 and had no say on the appointment of coaches. SWD union was lucky that it had three players in the EP Kings squad.

The Eastern Cape Sport Council President told the Committee the franchise was way beyond rugby matters. The week before the Sport Council sought to intervene in the matter between the three unions and had arranged a special meeting where all agreements around the franchise would be put on the table.

Members expressed support for the Southern Kings but expressed concern with the increasing number of foreign players recruited by the franchise. They further questioned how much financial support the franchise received from SARU and employment equity at the Southern Kings franchise.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson teasingly commented that the presence of the sole MP from the Pan African Congress (PAC) signified the importance of the meeting. The Member could have attended other meetings in Parliament but had prioritised this matter. He thanked the South African Rugby Union (SARU) for having invited Members to the transformation indaba as it afforded them an opportunity to listen and understand issues. When the current administration left office Members needed to be convinced rugby would be the most transformed sport.

The delegation was expected to take the Committee through some of the challenges it faced but also to assist Members understand those challenges. An invitation had been extended to the Southern Kings franchise, but it was rumoured that they would not be attending. Rugby administration was important because it dealt well with issues, but it needed to look at pursuing the developmental goal of government.

The Chairperson congratulated the Proteas (SA Cricket team) for their series win against Pakistan.

Mr Jurie Roux, SARU Chief Executive Officer (CEO), indicated that representatives from the Southern Kings would be joining the proceedings a little later. There had not been an indication that delegation from the Eastern Province (anchor union for the Kings) would not be part of the meeting.

SARU presentation

Mr Oregan Hoskins, SARU President, commented that the CEO would make the presentation and would seek to contextualise the issue of transformation since the last meeting SARU had with Parliament. Transformation was one item that had to remain in the Agenda for a long while.

Mr Hoskins further indicated that the presentation would address the following issues- the Transformation Indaba, the EP Kings franchise and how the decision to host a franchise in PE was arrived at, and the issue of foreign players. The decision to have an Eastern Cape-based franchise was not arrived at on 16 August 2012; it was taken a long time ago.

Mr Roux said that half-a-billion rands had been spent on transformation and rugby development in the past 20 years. All facets of rugby administration had changed in the past 20 years, such that the pre-1992 demographics were unrecognisable. The next step was aligning SARU’s transformation strategy with government’s national sports and recreation plan. Everything that SARU did was aligned to the plan, and had goals and development in terms of expansion. A number of meetings with the Department of Sports and Recreation (SRSA) ensued in an attempt to ensure that the plan was adhered to.

The budget for development in 2012 was R72 million, and represented about 10% of the organisation’s turnover. The schools development had been prioritised as the Springbok cradle, otherwise if this was not the case there would be no players.

SARU had stuck to the Committee’s advice last year that it address the gender issue and the lack of black administrators. In addition, the process had begun to align the provincial unions’ constitutions with that of SARU’s own constitution. The process had begun, and was being built from school level.

The Schools Rugby Association of SA was not aligned in terms of the unions. This was an independent body that made its own constitution and rules, and as a result SARU had no jurisdiction over rugby at schools. Issues of contravention at school matches were handled by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and concerned schools. This was a predicament in terms of the development of the sport at grassroots level. This situation necessitated that the DBE, along with SRSA be partnered with in the development of sport at school level. Without such an arrangement with DBE one could not do anything in the school environment.

The process of aligning with schools had started and would be thoroughly debated in the next annual general meeting. This issue needed much attention in order to be resolved. More needed to be done for schools in rural areas. Since the last meeting with Parliament, all unions had been invited to a transformation indaba. The arrangement of the workshops was such that meetings were held with each of the big unions, where the implementation plan was clarified.

Smaller unions were also invited to a workshop in Bellville and the same information on transformation was relayed. They were afforded an opportunity to bring their coaches, presidents and development officers. The same information was provided and the unions were asked to come to the transformation indaba with a mandate. MECs of sports were invited; some of them arrived and delegates from some were received. The meeting was concluded with a declaration.

The important part of the declaration was getting the unions to align with what was agreed at the indaba. This was but the first step in getting everybody aligned. Since the meeting the rugby landscape had been audited. For SARU to speak from a platform of knowledge it had to understand the landscape and the correct numbers of players. The audit involved both schools and club rugby.

Workshops had been held with all 14 provinces to examine the practicality of the transformation targets as agreed at the indaba. SARU went to each union to workshop officials on the results of the indaba. This was done in order to avoid a situation where the same implementation plan, targets and deliverables were imposed on all unions, as challenges of the Boland Rugby Union, for an example would be different to KZN Rugby Union. Following the workshops, SARU drafted targets for 2013. The targets were not unilateral decisions from SA Rugby.

A lot of money had been channelled towards making women’s rugby more professional. Women were being looked after like any other professional side. There was a residential programme in the EC, where players were looked after in a same setting; this was along the same lines as the Sevens Rugby team. Women’s rugby was on the right track; but the only challenge was that they were played at the national level. He said competitively, women’s provincial rugby was played in the EC and to an extent in the Western Cape.

Representation at the Super Rugby and the National Rugby level was where most of the criticism was directed at the moment. SA had been doing well at Sevens Rugby, except for a recent spate of poor performances. At under-20 level the picture was not doom, but a question had to be asked: why were these players not coming through to represent the national teams. SARU was not hiding anything; it was producing the numbers so that everyone could see. Representation and transformation was better in the past two years but not where everybody wanted it to be. Rugby needed to transform in all spheres.

SARU had embarked on a complete transformation process that encompassed all of the aspects in rugby. This process did not only focus on representation at Springbok and provincial levels; if transformation were to occur; it needed to occur on every other level. These included management, diversity, gender, black coaching and refereeing. Black coaches and black referees were coming along; refereeing was particularly impressive although there were too few referees.

Mr Roux explained that representation at junior team levels was much higher, and at senior level the number dropped significantly. There were highs and lows on the rugby landscape and now SARU knew where to improve. Findings on the schools rugby were scary, but there were insights. Although rugby was played in all of the 52 districts in the country, the picture was gloomy when it came to provinces like KZN and some parts of the FS, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West. Leading provinces in terms of schools rugby were the EC, WC, NC, Gauteng and part of the FS. There were serious issues at grassroots level and club level in terms of developing the sport. Today SARU knew the challenges it was confronted with.

Key findings included the fact that of the 57 000 boys who entered Grade 1 each year, only 5% (28 358) play 1st XV rugby in Grade 12. This meant South African senior teams were selected from the 5% who had made it through school. Given the realities of school strengths, especially that there were too few good rugby schools, this number was much lower. Rugby was not a national sport at school level. Only one in every 35 schools played rugby in Limpopo, Mpumalanga KZN and the NW. He said 60% of all rugby-playing high schools were in the WC and the EC. The 251 Springboks capped since unity in 1992 had been drawn from 143 high schools.

Mr Roux said SARU’s role in the entire picture was to create opportunities where there was desire. There had to be the will and participation. The organisation supported the Department’s initiatives in mass participation at schools. SARU also supported the development of skills through coaching and high performance programmes. High performance environment was important as it determined a player’s progress in the game. SARU had so far built four high performance centres in PE, Border, South Western Districts (SWD) and Boland.

SARU was excited about the players who had been registered at the centres, and the programmes had started two weeks ago. There had been an assurance from EP that about eight future Springboks registered at the high performance centre and were likely to come through in the next seven years. This was made possible with the money received from the lottery. Irrespective of what happened at junior levels, SARU would be judged on what it offered at Springbok and Super Rugby level. It therefore needed to create the elite teams that reflected the rugby-playing demographics of the country.

SARU had a grassroots approach that focussed on uplifting existing black rugby-playing schools. But there had to be a short-term approach as waiting for grassroots would take up to 12 years, and as a result there had been a focus on the top 40 black schools programme. The schools were assisted and funded through the programme. The transformation indaba and the implementation plan were consistent that transformation had to happen at all levels.

All unions were visited and work-shopped on transformation targets. Change had to be forced in most unions, because the tendency had been to refuse change. People tended to elect the same administrators and executives all the time. The composition of the executives was particularly important; there had to be understanding of why there had to be transformation. Understanding of transformation was the biggest issue and was important in order to ensure diversity. This applied to all executives.

He said that rugby had a national footprint; however it needed to be broadened in order to ensure that more people played the sport. There was a need to address the situation of having too many Springboks coming from too few schools. SARU team selections were representative of the available talent. Transformation had been driven aggressively. Programmes were in place to develop black Springboks. Provinces were the feeder ground and had committed to transformation targets.

Discussion

The Chairperson commented that the leadership of SARU was on track. Waiting for the results in the next 10 years would be exciting; it took time to reap the fruits of development. The process did not happen over night; it took time.

Mr T Lee (DA) commented that it was good to see SARU attending to the issues that the Committee had raised. One category of information that should be included in future presentations was the use of foreign players. This would provide the Committee with a fuller picture of what was happening on the ground.

Mr Lee sought clarity on the attendance of the indaba by the MECs. Which MECs did not attend? This information was important to the Committee for oversight purposes. MECs should attend these meetings so that they could account better when the Committee visited these provinces.

Mr Roux replied that MECs from the EC and KZN had attended; and representatives from all provincial sports councils had attended.

Mr Lee commented that little sport was happening in schools especially in areas where it was hoped that participation was maximised. There were talented players in all areas; the kind of assistance given to talented athletes in poor schools was crucial. He asked if SARU had talent scouts, as well as bursaries for boys attending poor schools so they could attend the traditional rugby schools.

Mr Lee asked if it would not be ideal to introduce Academies in those areas where rugby was non-existent, in an attempt to lure players and develop players. He wanted to know how Academies worked, and who ran those once they were established. The Committee should visit those Academies, and should know where they were located.

Mr Mervin Green, SARU’s Development General Manager, replied that as a strategic move, SARU looked to establish rugby community structures within the 52 municipal districts. With the recent audit of players, SARU knew where to go in terms of development, and structuring communities. Key strategic programmes that SARU looked to embark on were mass participation.

This programme was enrolled world-wide, and was done in line with the International Rugby Board. Focus was given on shortened versions of the game as well. SARU would go big on capacity buildings with particular focus on administrators, volunteers and referees; but also establishing national leagues on the shorter versions of the game.

Central to all of this was talent identification. An opportunity was being created to be identified and selected where proper development could be given, and an opportunity to make it to the top was provided. A “proper survey” of top black players in the country had been done to place them in Academies. He clarified that in 2012 alone, over and above the Lotto funding, R12 million was spent on development, and a further R15 million would be spent.

Mr Roux replied that additional money had to be added to the Lotto funding in order to make the Academies viable. SARU could not just rely on Lotto; it had to add a substantial amount to make it work in the first instance.

Mr Lee also sought clarity on how women rugby structures were administered. Was there an organised league for women? Were all rugby activities in RSA administered by SARU; he asked what difference it would make if women’s rugby was administered by women.

Mr Roux replied that women’s rugby had a department, headed by Mr Mahlubi Puzi, within SARU. Women’s rugby was administered separately and from last year a sub-committee had been established at the executive council level, to look into the matters of women’s rugby. The committee had been co-opted to the committees of SARU. Each union administered its own league for women and this was where selections for national teams and sevens for women happened. Prominent provinces were the EP, WP and the Blue Bulls.

Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) wanted to know the finer details of development and transformation. What were the key areas in transformation? He asked if development and transformation was more focused on the environment within which rugby was played, or the player base. What was it that was being transformed?

Mr Roux replied that the plan and the targets were drafted at the indaba. The unions had signed the declaration knowing the basis for which they signed on. There were defined timelines; targets and deliverables; these would be included in the next presentation.

Mr Mphahlele asked for finer details on the use of the lottery money. How much and how often SARU received the lottery money? He requested that clarity be provided on rugby funding in general.

Mr Roux replied that R35 million was a once-off amount received from the lottery and was spent on accommodation, food, and travelling. On top of this amount SARU had to contribute R5 million to pay for salaries.

Mr Mphahlele wondered if the breakdown of the traditional rugby schools could be provided by province, especially those that produced the 40% of Springboks.

Mr Roux replied he did not have the provincial breakdown of the 20 schools where most Springboks had been selected, but the schools included, Grey College (FS), Paarl Gymnasium, Bishops, Paul Roos (all WP), Afrikaans Hoerskool (FS), Monument (Lions), Selbourne College (Border), Adelaide (Border), Boland Landbou (Boland), Hylton College (FS), Maritzburg College (KZN), Pretoria Boys High (Blue Bulls), Queens College (Border), San Du Plessis (FS), Waterkloof (Blue Bulls), Ben Viljoen (Limpopo), Despatch (EP), and DHS (KZN).

Mr Mphahlele asked for clarity on the statement that provinces committed to, on and off-field targets. He asked if there were timeframes, specifically, on off-field transformation targets and what that related to. He also sought comment on the greatest challenge relating to rugby development.

Mr Roux said that focus was given to the off-field issues, like the administrators, and governance systems. These were some of the off-fields programmes that SARU committed on; it wanted to ensure transformation took place in all of the committees.

Ms G Sindane (ANC) commented that the findings were glaring when one looked at the schools where numbers were low. She requested SARU to comment on how it assisted those provinces where numbers were low especially in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Mr Roux replied that SARU now understood more about how widespread rugby was played in the country. The organisation was aware there was little rugby being played in schools and clubs in Limpopo. The approach to Limpopo would be different to the WC for an example. The ploy in Limpopo would be to gradually introduce the game and start with touch rugby, while in the WC it would be to identify talented players.

Ms M Dube (ANC) wanted the difference in figures of players representing schools and club rugby, as well as junior and senior clubs. She said the numbers appeared to be dwindling when it came to senior clubs. She also commented that the delegation did not satisfy the gender parity requirements.

Mr Roux replied that the tendency was for high school boys to opt for other things other than playing sport. The biggest challenge was the fallout between high school and club rugby. The launch of the community cup was meant to address this anomaly. The community cup would have an under 19 division as an attempt to lure those youngsters who left school but might not be ready for club level.

Mr Roux replied that if the presentation was to look at the issue of finances and human resources at SARU, then the representation of the delegation would have been entirely different, and would have included a number of women.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) wanted to know if unions had complied with SARUs constitution, and if they agreed with all it had said. What came out of the provincial workshop? Was there movement, or stagnation in terms of transformation?

Mr Roux replied that at the indaba the plan and the targets were drafted at the indaba. The unions had signed the declaration knowing the basis for which they signed on. There were defined timelines; targets and deliverables; these would be included in the next presentation.

Mr Roux replied that the outcomes on provincial workshops were positive and were clear.

Mr Dikgacwi sought clarity on the use of “coloured” and “black”. He commented that the two words were used selectively, in that when reference was made to on-field representation of teams, “black” encompassed everyone, and yet when it related to off-field dynamics, it only applied to blacks of African descent.

Mr Dikgacwi also commented that the absence of employees with disability in all of the provinces was a worrisome trend. Nothing was happening; only three provinces recorded employees with disabilities - FS (8), EP (4) and Boland (1). He asked if there were no disabled people in other provinces. He sought clarity on whether something came out of the workshops.

Mr Roux commented that if targets were too low on disability they needed to be renegotiated. The environment was unfriendly to disabled people; something serious had to be done.

Mr Lee commented that the Academies needed to be sustainable and carried through a number of years. He asked if the Lotto funding was a once off.

Mr Roux replied the lotto funding was a once off. A sustainable way of funding was needed, but SARU would have to find a way to raise funds. Rugby needed a sustainable product. The Academies needed to be rolled throughout the country, otherwise the concentration of black talent would only be in a certain place and SARU would have to move black players from one region to the other. This was not an ideal situation.

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) commented that the declaration was good, but without a plan of action to operationalise, it was useless. There was a need for a programme and timeline that addressed the specifics of when, what, who, and how things would be done. He asked what the link with provincial governments was. Sports development was a government priority at this stage. He asked if there had been follow-up meetings with those MECs who attended the transformation indaba, to ascertain their programmes.

Mr Roux replied that some provinces and local government supported SARU programmes especially the EC, WC and FS, including Mpumalanga. SARU was constantly engaging with government as it was a source of funding as well.

The Chairperson commented there would be many challenges around transformation. Rugby was popular and very important, that was why transformation was crucial. Rugby had a potential to address issues as varied as employment creation; teams should assist with the challenges that were faced by the country. Some of the implementation targets should be visible on the ground.

The Committee would visit the Academies. It took time to transform, but leadership needed to be pushed until transformation was achieved. With a capable leadership it was possible to push the standards higher. Although challenges were there at least there was commitment to transform. The Committee would work with SARU to ensure the implementation of the objectives as contained in the declaration of the transformation indaba.

EP Kings presentation

Mr Cheeky Watson, President EP Rugby Union, clarified that there was a difference between the EP Kings Franchise and the Southern Kings, which included Border Rugby and the South Western Districts (SWD). He said that the invitation did not specify, but requested that the presentation be done on the Southern Kings Franchise.

Mr Watson said that black talent left the province due to a lack of exposure and opportunities at Super Rugby (competitions played by 15 teams, representing five provincial franchises from RSA, New Zealand and Australia). Participation for the Southern Kings participation in the competition had been promised since 2005. There was a binding legal agreement that the Southern Kings – then known as Southern Spears - would participate.

The Southern Kings were launched in 2009; and promised entry in 2011. The launch saw the franchise host the British and Irish Lions in PE. Players were lured back to the province, for 2011, but partners discussed the issue. Despite protestation from Border and the SWD, entry was pushed back to 2013, with an understanding that the Kings would be allowed an entrenchment period of three years.

Mr Watson said that during the launch days the working relationship with all levels of government was healthy. The intervention by the then Minister of Sport (Mr Makhenkesi Stofile) and the Portfolio Committee, under the chairmanship of (Mr Butana Khompela) was instrumental. All this government intervention ensured that the region reached the goal of Super Rugby.

He said that the playing squad had slowly improved; however he acknowledged that the franchise faced an uphill task. The franchise was given two months to prepare, and could only participate for a one year term. This made it difficult to secure sponsorship. He was not sure if the obstacles put before the EP Kings was a deliberate move. The franchise would nevertheless grab the opportunity wit both hands and deliver as best it could. The one-year term made it impossible also to secure an equity partner. The region also lost about five quality black players.

Discussion

Mr Lee expressed support for the Southern Kings on condition that rugby in the EP region was about a geographical area - Border SWD and PE - not a province where rugby was a tradition among black communities. The second condition was the development of local talent in the region. From a personal point of view he was sceptical about the franchise but was convinced to change his stance in the interest of development of rugby in the region. The idea was never about Argentineans and Australians, but the people of the Eastern Province. He concerned about a pending agreement that the number of foreign players be increased.

Mr Lee said the franchise was currently consumed with increasing the numbers of foreign players. He requested that the quest to sign foreign players be contextualised on the exodus of black talent and the franchise’s slogan: “bring them home.” Why were the players leaving?

Mr Watson replied there were five black players that the franchise wanted to sign but they chose to leave because they were offered short term contracts.

Mr Lee sought clarity on whether EP received money from SARU, and if so, how much was it, and how often was the money paid.

Mr Roux replied that the EP Kings were treated like any other franchise during the build up to entry in the Super Rugby. Funding was in two parts; mainly generated first, from the broadcasting rights of the local competitions, and then the broadcasting rights from the Super Rugby. All six franchises got the same amount from a lump sum of R14 million each year. Applications for development money were submitted and approved on certain deliverables with clearly set targets. If one delivered the money was paid, if not, the money was not paid.

Mr Lee sought clarity on the Employment Equity at the Southern Kings franchise.

Ms Sindane sought clarity on the employment of two foreign nationals. What was their specialisation that SA residents lacked? But also none employment of coloured people at the franchise needed to be clarified; were there no coloureds in the province.

Ms Sindane asked if the relationship with SARU was healthy especially as it pertained to the signing of the declaration. Was there no engagements around the employment of people at the EP Kings, if so, what was the turn around strategy to address the anomaly of racial composition of staff.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) requested that the relationship with SARU be clarified in light of a slide that was not presented, but stated “the EP Kings did not get support from SARU”.

Mr Watson replied that the relationship with SARU was not the best. The franchise had already indicated unhappiness with the announcement on 16 August. This situation prejudiced the franchise from potential sponsors and quality players. This was formally communicated to SARU.

The Chairperson commented that the issue needed to be around the objectives of setting up the Southern Kings. Had those been achieved? And if not, what challenges were there? This was where the discussion needed to centre on. At a strategic level the meeting needed to address the issues, and could veer off later to the other issues like employment. There was a clear purpose why the franchise was set up.

The Chairperson commented that the presentation needed to assist the Committee in understanding whether the franchise was on the way to achieving the objectives. If this was not happening, what were the challenges? The issues of money allocation and employment would be later addressed. This was a special case; Members needed to be comfortable that the decision they took was a correct one.

The Southern Kings should assist the Committee to understand whether its objectives were being achieved. This was the ultimate objective and then Members could come back to whether there were women, or people with disabilities. The focus should be the development of rugby in the EC. This was the region where people had been exposed to the game of rugby for over 100 years; the platform was not relevant to raise questions about rugby in Limpopo.

Border Rugby comments

Andre Killian, Border Rugby Union Chairman, commented that 3 provinces had signed an agreement in July 2011. There had been challenges around the agreement and the interpretation of it. Subsequently the EC Sport Council became involved and a decision was taken two weeks back that there had to be a short and long-term strategy with the Southern Kings.

He commented that the young talent left the region in droves in an attempt to get exposure to top flight rugby. Structures were being created in the region for young players to stay and play rugby there. The recent success by Border age groups ensured players wanted to represent the union. He said not a single player of the Under 18 team that represented Border at the Craven Week, tournament remained in the union in 2011; in 2012, 15 of those players were signed to play in the province.

There was a high performance centre established in 2011, but also 7 regional academies in trying to reach out to rural areas. These were situated at Mdantsane, Umthatha, Khobonqaba, Rhini, King William’s Town, Komani and Dikeni. The whole objective of it all was mass participation in sport. He indicated that Border had received R250 000 from SARU for 2012.

Mr Dikgachwi interjected and said that the purpose of the meeting was on whether the Southern Kings were achieving the objectives it was set up for. SARU was tasked with assisting the Kings with preparation for participating in Super Rugby; what had happened? All the other issues could be attended to at some other time. Millions had been given to the region for hosting the British and Irish Lions, New Zealand and England, had the other two regions benefited from those monies? The main objective was to develop the black players, as there were complaints each year about Springbok representation. Parliament, as a measure to address that anomaly, agreed to focus energies in the EP and Boland to unearth black talent.

SWD comments

Mr Roy Volkwyn, President SWD Rugby, concurred with Mr Killian that there was a corporation agreement, but that was just paper work. The agreement stated the unions were entitled to R250 000 and had no say on the appointment of coaches. SWD union was lucky that it had three players in the Southern Kings squad. The three were there on merit. The challenge in the franchise was that communication was done via the media. The relationship with SARU was not what it should be with the franchise; there was a need for an improvement.

Mr Mkhululi Magada, EC Sport Council President, said that the franchise was way beyond rugby matters, but also was representative of the province. The week before the Sport Council sought to intervene and had arranged a special meeting where all agreements around the franchise were put on the table. Relations were improving with SARU.

EP comments

Mr Watson said there were always challenges. The R98 million generated during the PE Tests did not go to the other provinces but was money generated in the province. He said there were also challenges with the Border and SWD as partners in the franchise.

Discussion

Mr Hlengwa commented that things were not well at the franchise, and that there appeared to be a challenge of communication and cooperation. He was disappointed. The Committee could not pretend that what was supposed to be done was being done. There were fundamental reasons why the franchise was put together, and in that particular location. This was not working; further engagements were needed, because clearly challenges existed.

Mr M Rabotabi (DA) sought clarity on the statement that Border and SWD did not have a say in the appointment of coaches. If the two unions did not have a say, who then had?

Mr Rabotabi wanted to know why the announcement about the participation of the EP Kings in Super Rugby was made that late in the year.

Mr Freddie Makoki, EP Rugby Union Executive Member, commented that SARU needed to answer the questions as to why the announcement was made so late, and secondly, why only a year was given for the entrenchment of the EP Kings. Chances were that the franchise would not survive the competition, and would never rise again. Another issue that needed to be attended was the allocation of money to franchises. EP Kings could not receive the same allocation as other franchises who had lucrative sponsorships and had years to entrench themselves in the competition.

The Chairperson commented there was a need for the EP Rugby Union to meet with the Committee. The real issue today was just to deal with some of the challenges. He enquired whether the franchise was functional and had a future.

Mr Makoki replied “yes”.

SARU Comment

Mr Hoskins said the issue of the Southern Kings participating in Super rugby had not been easy and his Presidency had been challenged by this matter. It involved having to tell one of the major franchises that it would not be playing super rugby in the future. This was difficult. SARU took the advice of the Committee and informed all unions about the decision to include the Southern Kings. The decision was taken by all provinces that the Kings should play Super rugby. The objective was to uplift the EP rugby because transformation would succeed.

There had been a timeline about decisions taken by SARU in 2005; the Presidents’ Councils (body where all 14 union presidents meet) resolved that the Southern Kings would be entrenched in 2007. The decision was reversed as indication was that the franchise was not ready. Delayed entry for the franchise was again delayed in 2009, following an agreement that the franchise would not be ready by 2011. The sentiment was that the Southern Kings would not be ready for Super rugby in 2011, but an undertaking was arrived at to support the franchise.

In 2010, SARU made a commitment to support the Southern Kings, and endorsed the call that it would participate in Super rugby in 2013. In the same year, the Executive Council requested that a formula be worked out that would accommodate Southern Kings should SANZAR (the regional umbrella body administering rugby affairs between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) not accommodate the Southern Kings through an expansion of each conference.

In December 2010, the Executive Council agreed that the Southern Kings would participate in Super rugby in 2013. At a workshop attended by all union presidents and CEOs, all delegates agreed that the Southern Kings should participate in 2013. A vast majority were opposed to a three year entrenchment period. He had informed the President’s Forum (similar structure as the Presidents’ Council but outside of SARU mandate) in December 2011 that the Southern Kings would participate in 2013. These were the records, and were included in media statements.

In January 2012, the Executive Council considered a methodology to apply in order to determine which franchise would be relegated at the end of the season. It was agreed that the South African franchise occupying the lowest log position at the end of the Super 15, 2012 season, would be relegated. It was common knowledge that it was the Lions. In the same month a special general council endorsed the Executive Council’s decision to include the Southern Kings in the Super rugby. On 16 August 2012, the general council reaffirmed the participation of the Southern Kings in Super rugby in 2013. These were the facts as obtained from official records, trying to contextualise the franchise of the Southern Kings. It would be very difficult for the Kings; their failure was SARU’s failure.

Mr Dikgacwi commented that there was a proposal that there had to be a preparation for the Kings to be ready by now; did that happen? If not, why? He understood that the proposal would have included money. Was the assistance provided?

Mr Mark Alexander, SARU’s Deputy President, clarified that the meeting of 16 August 2012 was just to finalise the mechanism of who dropped out, and not the principle of who was coming in.

Mr Alexander also clarified that additional funding was provided to EP Rugby over and above what all other franchises received.

The Chairperson asked Mr Magada if the franchise was ready to participate in the Super rugby competition.

Mr Magada replied “yes, EP Kings were ready”. He requested that the franchise be not treated as others by SARU on funding allocation as it did not have a sponsor.

Mr Roux commented that none of the franchises had an agreement longer than a year with SARU. All five of the playing franchises currently playing could be out at the end of the year. He said sponsorship was not attached to a year element, rather than on whether the product was viable. If the product was not viable, no one would want to sponsor. There was a naive and a tunnel vision in terms of sponsorship. One had to put on the table a viable product. This was a commercial agreement; not a charity or an NGO.

Mr Roux commented that reference to the date was history and would not help anybody now. There was a time and a place where a decision was taken, from there onwards one had to make the decision work. This was about looking into the future and not the past; the past would not get players on the field on Saturday (debut date for the EP Kings in Super rugby). The EP Kings would still have to run onto the pitch on Saturday and win; this was the main focus.

Mr Roux said the EP Kings needed money and no effort had been spared in ensuring that it got money. On the question on whether the Kings were ready; the franchise was as ready as any other franchise. The franchise could only benchmark itself after Saturday’s game, and it was only then that itcould know if they were ready or not. This was sport; it all depended on whether one won or lost. The same principle applied to all other franchises.

Closing remarks

The Chairperson noted that the franchise had indicated that it was ready. A decision was made and it was a correct decision. The EP Kings had to ensure that the team arrived on Saturday. The question of sponsorship was out; it was all about what one offered. One could not complain forever; EP Kings should take the opportunity that had been provided and work. The franchise should know how to get players. The EP Kings must succeed as a project, and everyone needed to ensure they did their part. The question of foreign players needed to be addressed; there should be guidelines on the matter, as the intention was to develop rugby among black communities in the region. He wished the EP Kings well.

The meeting was adjourned.

Present

  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: