SA Rugby Union on its 2015 Annual Report; Rugby World Cup performance; Blitzbokke Rio 2016 prep; EP Kings; provincial union governance & transformation

Sports, Arts and Culture

19 April 2016
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

For the 2015 year, SARU had a surplus of R33 million on a turnover of R967 million and an unqualified audit. This surplus is line with the long term business goal of establishing a R100 million reserve in times of crisis for the union. SARU has developed an e-filing system that integrates data and statistics from the provincial unions to SARU so that information is readily available for presentation to the Committee and other relevant bodies should the need arise.

The Committee said that transformation has been a recurring issue that has not been achieved, and the Chairperson said that there is nothing to be proud about the slow pace of transformation in South African rugby, both within the management structures and the teams. Transformation is important because it aims to undo the injustice of the apartheid system. The Chairperson raised her concern that the SARU delegation consisted of only men, with one female representative and most of the men were white and a handful of black and colored people.

Within the management structures of SA Rugby, as well as the support staff, the organization is working toward having women in management and people of colour. With regard to technical support staff, the demographic representation shows transformation and the meeting of targets. The only field lagging behind is bio-kinetics, which has very few black people. SARU has put mechanisms in place to monitor the process of transformation to ensure that all the provincial unions are in line.

Meeting report

SARU 2015 Annual Report
Mr Jurie Roux, CEO SARU, said that SARU was able to have a good financial year with a surplus of R33 million on a turnover of R967 million and an unqualified audit. The surplus was part of a wider long term business goal of establishing a R100 million reserve as a risk mitigation strategy. The union should be in a position where they can be able to tap into reserves should the need arise.

The Strategic Transformation Plan (STP) was published. Cape Town Sevens was a success with a record audience and a R539 million economic impact for the local economy. Match analysis software, an athlete management system and an online management system (e-filing) was developed by SARU. The rugby safety programme is important towards providing safety to children and alleviating concerns of parents. The “Springbok experience rugby museum” was named in the top 1% of global attractions by TripAdvisor.

In terms of financials, SARU is focusing more on the spending component rather than the income component. Summary of the budget allocations in 2015 were: 24% national team costs, 13% competition costs, 21% allocation to members, 10% marketing and administration, 4% elite player development, 13% development and women’s rugby, and 15% sponsor rights delivery.

In terms of governance, SARU has to participate in 52 municipalities, aligning clock competitions in the direction of municipalities. SARU adopted a constitutional amendment on registering as a member of SASCOC. Limpopo as a province is not there as a separate union, but all the structures are implemented and managed by the Blue Bulls union to provide the technical and financial support for Limpopo to survive. Limpopo at present is not financially and technically able to function as an independent union in SA rugby.

In terms of its transformation plan, this is a very public process. An MOU has been signed with government, where SARU and four other unions will listen in on what the numbers are for the financial year as well as alignment for 2016/2017.

Mr Marvin Green, General Manager: Development, added that the Minister of Sports and Recreation instituted the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on Transformation in Sport and Recreation. It sets targets to be achieved using a generic component for all aspects of demographic transformation. SARU is phasing in women and disabled people into its structures and the 2017 results will prove this. The most important dimension is the demographic profile of our national and provincial teams in competitions. In 2015, all the teams achieved representation. Only the male national team has not achieved the target yet. The female teams are succeeding and have transformed well with both generic black and African black. In terms of technical support staff, black people are fully represented in terms of targets.

Mr Roux clarified that targets for medical doctors and experts have been achieved, but targets for biokineticists has not been achieved. Not enough black people are represented in this field. He said that Coach Allister Coetzee has been put into the Springbok management team from 2016 onwards. Ian Swartz, former high performance manager for the Blue Bulls is now on his second year in the management structure. The Junior management team also has various individuals who have been in the organization or have experience in the field of leadership in rugby for many years and are heading the management team.

For accredited coaches and referees, targets have been achieved in both fields, especially in primary schools. SARU is proud to be part of the programme internationally that boosts the participation of players, both girls and boys. Player numbers as a result has increased dramatically with almost 80 000 new players in the game. The ‘Get into rugby’ programme is now in its second year. In the first year of implementation it recruited more than 30 000 players and these were girls playing the game at the grass root level.

For participation in schools, growth is slow in female rugby. There is slight improvement in overall participation at the school level though. More high school facilities are available throughout the country than are available for primary schools. Primary school leagues have increased from the projected 600 at the beginning of 2015 to 622 by December 2015 when stats were taken.

There are slight increases in club infrastructure in numbers and player numbers by almost 1 000 new players. SARU recorded a much higher achievement in facilities set as targets. Most clubs have their own facilities, but where they do not, they utilize the municipal facilities available in the towns.

Looking at the transformation plan, transformation has been achieved on almost all the targets except for the senior male national team. There are not enough black players in the team yet. Junior and national teams have always been selected on merit and is the main objective. In two consecutive years, players have been chosen on merit. National female team demographics are also in line. New people have been implemented in the national technical team support demographics, starting in 2014, and there has been good progress.

Looking at performance at the Rugby World Cup in 2015, South Africa came third in the competition last year and still achieved an honorable position, but unless we achieve a gold medal, we have not succeeded. SARU has to make sure that the next time we return from a Rugby World Cup we will have a gold medal.

In terms of preparation for the Blitzbokke for Rio 2016, South Africa is currently second in ranking in world rugby. SARU has the full support of provincial rugby unions in releasing players to the national team to achieve a gold medal at the Olympics for Team SA.

Mr Roux gave an update on the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU), saying SARU can only intervene in terms of the constitution, or if the financial situation weakens to a point requiring intervention. On 14 July 2015, the executive council agreed that should the sponsorship monies as advised by Mr Cheeky Watson not be forthcoming in the very near future, an independent group of individuals would be appointed by SARU to oversee the administration of the affairs of the franchise. On 9 September 2015, the executive council noted that the president of the EPRU had not complied by divulging the name of the potential sponsor for the EP union, nor confirmed the amount that was alleged to be procured. By 17 November 2015, EPRU asked SARU to assist by taking responsibility for the management of the Southern Kings. On 9 December 2015, the executive council noted that the sponsorship had failed to materialize and decided that it was imperative to take control of the EP Union and that the decision be communicated to the union under clause 27.7 of the constitution. Such an action is only practicable by the invitation and cooperation of the member union – EPRU. By 30 January 2016, the executive council attended the EPRU annual meeting at which proper annual financial statements were not presented. On 1 March 2016, the CEO of SARU advised the executive council that business rescue of EPRU is no longer an option as the EP rugby advisors had left it too late to file the required papers for this process. On 24 February 2016, the executive council attended a second EPRU meeting at which delegates requested SARU’s intervention in the form of full administrative control of EPRU and EP Pty Ltd. And finally, on 31 March 2016, the executive council appointed Monde Tabata as the SA Rugby representative in the administration of EPRU.

On the status of governance and transformation in provincial unions, SARU has introduced an e-filing system that collects all the information requested by government. The system monitors everything that the union does as well as what SARU does and then SARU can report to government. The unions are rated based on performance. Where red rugby balls are flashing that refers to poor demographic representation, Amber represents a process that is still working toward achieving targets by 2019, and the green ball indicates that the target has already been met.

Mr Roux gave an update on the Vodacom Super Rugby. Qualification and mark is threefold. Red ball means not achieving 60%, Amber just above 60% and Green is above 80%. In terms of the six dimensions, the transformation plan is a level of detail and you receive massive credit for achieving targets. The glaring issue in transformation is the demographic aspect. For BEE, this is the easiest one to fix and involves working through accredited agencies and companies to ensure that companies are BEE compliant.

The Chairperson said that the presentation on performance is worrisome because it does not reflect what was seen during the Committee’s oversight visit especially in Limpopo. As SARU, you put your plans in place, but when looking at provinces, we do not see this implemented. It is a problem that by 2016, we still have problems with regards to BEE.

Mr D Bergman (DA) commented that this transformation policy is a “funeral policy”. He says this because when looking at national reporting, the financial report is based on revenue generation based on talent and also mass participation. But the problem is that players are going overseas to play rugby and not playing in South Africa. As a Committee we are totally for Transformation, but it has to be responsible. Where does the money that gets fed into development go? At the school level, there is money coming from Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) and SARU, but how much money is going to maintaining facilities and also upkeep of these facilities? What is the new national team coach’s mandate? How often do meetings take place between SARU and SRSA? What is it that the Western Province union did well in terms of transformation that other unions did not, and how do we get other unions to implement that model? Where does access player management come from in the EP Kings?

In response, Mr Roux said that from a rugby perspective, transformation has been the most spoken about issue in our meetings. Since our democratic process began, rugby has operated in a different context to what it did under the previous regime. We know that rugby is the most difficult sport to achieve transformation and we are aware that we are constantly been watched and analysed. Transformation will continue to receive top priority on our agenda. The perception is that we are not transforming fast enough and that is understandable, but we will get there. In the professional trade, players have the right to go where they can get the most money, and players are attracted to play overseas because they earn more money there than what they can in South Africa with our current financial situation. It is impossible to have all our players playing in South Africa. We have too many professional players and our system cannot maintain them. That is why our players are attracted to go overseas especially to Japan.

In terms of club facilities, very little money flows to this end in terms of the sports plan, and provision of sports is the role of the Department of Sports and not SARU. A lot of the sports facilities are shared facilities with other sports, and yes there is a need for facilities. Our money for development goes through human resources and developing players and staff. Currently, there are negotiations for a new sponsor for the Springbok national team. About the EP Kings and the process going forward, Mr Roux said he would not believe too much in the media and the deals happening. The borders and demarcations are a constitutional change taken and not currently in front of the office. In terms of deals on the table, they are currently talking to three groups.

With unification of the rugby unions after the 1995 World Cup, and looking back at that time, there has never been a single sponsor in the Eastern Cape area, but we keep the flame of rugby burning in that area and produce a lot of players in that area, as well as coaches. Big companies and those in charge of finances in the country do not sponsor or finance Eastern Province rugby. When Mr Bergman said that money was given to Eastern Province rugby by the metropolitan municipality, that is not correct. No money was given to the EPRU.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) said in the previous year, we had rigorous discussions with SARU and we told them what we expect of them as the mother body of SA rugby. We are tired of always bringing up issues of transformation and hearing excuses every time. There is no rugby in the rural areas, and people there are seeing rugby only on television. This is worrisome because it is now 21 years into democracy, and people were previously disadvantaged by apartheid and now they are still disadvantaged. And looking at your delegation, there is only a mixture of white and colored male. Where are the women? How many of the accredited coaches are from rural areas?

Mr M Malatsi (DA) said in terms of where we are with rugby, this is a contested topic because the majority of us who are in sports admin or as leaders in society feel strongly that the sport has to represent what all South Africans want rugby to be. This often sparks emotive reactions. There has to be blatant progress since previous discussions. Can we get more light on the interventions that SARU is taking to deal with transformation, and what makes it difficult to attract females to the administration of the sport? Can we get input on the performance of the team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and what does their performance say about the team, and what interventions are in place? What is the plight of the players who have been the most affected by the loss of income in the EP Kings?

Mr M Filtane (UDM) asked when it comes to physiotherapists, do the players have an opportunity to choose who should do the physio, whether male or female? How would the current board feel if the new coach were to present you with a team that is 80% black and 20% white? Do you see transformation leading to a winning team? On the demographic of participating senior schools, what is the demographic profile of these schools which are improving? What happens to players coming from schools and varsity when it comes to Super Rugby? We would love to have an analysis of what caused the loss of the Springboks in the World Cup? The Eastern Cape has gone past the stage of talking about transformation and their problem is development support and logistics and not transformation, what is SARU doing about this? What is the problem with the Blue Bulls’ poor demographics, do we not have people of colour who are serious enough about rugby?

The Chairperson said that after 21 years of democracy we want transformation in rugby, and the Minister has stressed this. As a Committee, we are here to tell you where to improve and as the Minster has said, where you have not improved, there are consequences and you are given the opportunity to rectify this.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) noted on the transformation barometer, it says that the easiest to achieve is BEE, what is difficult for Western Province to achieve this? In terms of national demographics, it is important to have women in admin. In terms of the target for schools, was this something that was set, or just achieved?

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) said the performance of South Africa in the World Cup was very poor, especially to be beaten by a lower ranking country like Japan. It is impossible to talk about transformation without referring to colour because apartheid disadvantaged people in terms of colour. Very little is said about disabled people, what does SARU do for disabled people? Apartheid disadvantaged the rural areas a lot, please tell us which areas are participating in rugby?

Ms D Manana (ANC) said we have to emphasize transformation in sports. Even all those who previously had no interest in transformation are now interested, and we are waiting to see how far you have gone with transformation. Can you assist the new coach so that he does not fail? Task him with a mandate and have him implement targets according to duration. On the content of progress with SARU and SRSA, how far are you? What is the state of infrastructure where grassroots rugby occurs?

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said the sports plan was adopted with the other sport bodies, and this seems like it is the plan that was adopted, and the choice was whether to do what Zimbabwe did: “we have transformed, and forget about performance”. We did not take this route. We want to see performance and transformation. Apartheid ensured that people are separated by color, so transformation for us means undoing the effects of apartheid and we will not be apologetic when talking about transformation. In terms of the national imperative, it is important to have a single badge for all sports.

The Chairperson, looking at the Annual Report, asked how SARU is going to distribute the turnover of R967 million?

In response, Mr Roux said that for the sake of progress, each of the provincial heads has their own problems and challenges and this is an opportunity for them to talk about their challenges.

The Chairperson said the responses need to be brief. Time is not on our side unfortunately.

The comments made by the provincial unions were:
- With regards to the commitments made in Ekurhuleni, some of the schools and rural areas that are now participating in rugby are Katlehong, Tembisa, Daveyton, and Reiger Park.
- In order to improve rugby, we need to focus on the grass roots.
- It is not only up to SARU as a federation to ensure that things are working, it is a collective action with the department, municipalities and private business.
- With regard to access for the Bulls, the biggest challenge is that traditionally we have low participation figures at school level in our region. The majority of those participating are white schools. This creates a challenge to be competitive on the field.
- There is a decline in playing rugby after they realize that they are not going to play for the Springboks or Super Rugby, then they move on to play for other clubs, stop playing rugby altogether or emigrate and play abroad. That is why numbers are low.
- On the number of participants after leaving school, they are currently in process with Tshwane University to find out what is the academic qualifications of students after leaving university rugby.
- On the schools in Limpopo, they are currently engaging with the department of education to introduce rugby to those schools.
- The biggest challenge in Mpumalanga is demographics, and this will always be a challenge because this hails from several factors; proximity of the province next to the Bulls and Lions strongholds. This means that whenever there is a player who is excelling, Mpumalanga is not in a position to offer the same income to the player so the player is then lost from the province to one of these neighbours. BEE is another factor. 85% of procurement is spent on players.
- We support transformation in all aspects and participate in all programmes.
- Mr G McKenzie said being a former member of this Portfolio Committee and now being a representative of the KZN rugby union, he understands some of the challenges that the union experiences. He added that the union is just as serious about transformation as the committee is.”
- From the Lion’s side, we support transformation. Particularly in Gauteng, the demographics have centralized around soccer, so demographics are low particularly in this region. The synopsis for rugby is to play well, gain sponsorships and keep the players in the country playing the game. We need to have money in order to succeed on targets, and unfortunately when your team is losing you do not attract sponsors. Funding is needed desperately to support transformation.

Mr Roux said, when talking about rural areas, we need to be fair on the federation. We have a complete list of these areas, and maybe we do not tell them often enough, but whether we are doing enough or not, there is never enough money, but there are some success stories. Even though in terms of equity employment and plans, SARU is doing great and they have done enough to get females, but whether this is enough, there is never enough money once again. SARU accepts all the challenges put before it, together with the unions present here.

We are not afraid of letting the Coach choose his team whether it is 80% black and 20% white. This would actually go far to prove to the public that black people can play rugby. We are 100% behind our Coach and we will support his choices and attend all games.

In terms of the disability plan, we do get support for disabled players and employment equity and ensure that we have facilities in place to assist our disabled players and staff.

The Chairperson said that she did not want any of them to be proud with the snail’s pace of transformation. It has been 21 years and we are still having questions about transformation. We appreciate your plans to monitor transformation, but there is nothing to be proud of. She said let me take this opportunity to close this meeting with dignity: SARU, we are satisfied with your unions and the commitment you have made to us to monitor and implement transformation.

Meeting adjourned.

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