Provincial Rugby Unions on challenges, governance and transformation in provincial unions

Sports, Arts and Culture

29 November 2016
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Six provincial rugby unions were scheduled to report to the Committee on the governance and transformation in their respective unions, their successes and their challenges. However, Griffons Rugby Union and Border Rugby Union failed to appear before the Committee and made no apologies to either the Committee or to SA Rugby Union (SARU), whilst other delegates arrived late for the meeting and were asked by the Chairperson not to set a bad precedent in doing so.  without apologies to either the committee or SARU whilst the SARU president and other delegates arrived late for the meeting.

The report of Griquas rugby union reflected only 1 black manager in the organisation. Identified strategic partners of the union include the Provincial Department of Sport Art and Culture, sports councils on district level, local businesses and sponsors which provide financial support to the entity, and SARU. The demographics of referees depicted 3 black male referees and 1 female referee whilst majority are white referees and of the total 203 coaches, most of whom hailed from Van Drutten, there was 1 black male coach, 1 coloured female, 2 white female coaches, 58 coloured males, and 141 white males. Most clubs in the province were from the Namaqua District Municipality. The Get Into Rugby (GIR) programme which was spear-headed by Mr Matsaung Mphomade had made great strides in the province and the women’s rugby project involved 18 schools and 2 clubs. The demographics were outlined. The province is committed to a number of development projects involving coaches.

The Free State Rugby Union had a positive financial report. It had won the Currie Cup, and also won the league in the women’s division. It had a commitment for sponsorship from Toyota for R15 million; R5 million for three years. The Union was satisfied that it was fully compliant with its constitution, had  a vibrant governance system, and operated with good corporate governance. There were no issues with its affiliates. This Union achieved a total governance score of 60 out of the possible 64 and a score of 126 out of the possible 128 as regards administration. 40% of the union’s senior and middle management positions are occupied by blacks and the union has a proper strategic plan in place for both the professional and amateur rugby programmes. The union has an excellent financial system and processes in place to ensure prudent financial management and control and there are currently no financial constraints. The union also implements GIR programme, but is having problems in promoting girls' rugby at schools. The organisation has excellent recruitment and retention plans in place but recognises the need to train more black coaches and referees.

Leopards Rugby Union said it had sound governance structures and processes, its constitution was aligned to ensure 50% black representation, and it was trying to appoint more black people in middle and senior management. Its BEE rating was at level 6, and an audit hoping to improve this was ongoing. There was a strong school level player base, and 60 of the 480 accredited coaches are black and 40 of the 128 referees are black. The demographics for players at all levels were also set out, ranging between 17% and 25%, with recognition that there was work to be done. The VukaSizwe Trust twill train school leavers in artisanships. There were 350 registered women's rugby players and 352 more were introduced through the Vuka programme. The Union has a good working relationship with provincial government. Its financial report  depicted a decrease in total liabilities and an increase in assets and net profit.

Western Province Rugby Union also set out its demographics, noting 16.84% black players in 2016 Super Rugby participation. The figures for Super Rugby 2016 starting were also set out, with comparisons to the previous year, to Currie Cup match day, qualifiers and under 21s and under 19s. The 7s Kenya emerging team squad was described, and so were the ladies' squads. Fewer blacks are employed in the organisation than whites. Over 30% of the 19 suppliers of the Union have BEE Level 2 ratings. Challenges included inadequate support facilities for rugby players in the province, the conditioning in amateur players, and the strength, weight and height norms to participate in Super Rugby. Talent ID programme and Incubator Programme were identified as solutions.

The SA Rugby Union (SARU) said that it was facing huge challenges, including the high numbers of inexperienced players, following the retirement of many players in 2016, and the injury of 27 players in the Springbok team, as well as the absence of a strategy to get in new and young blood, which was showing now. On 13 December there would be a review involving staff, coach and players, and selection processes of overseas players were badly timed this year at one week before the matches. The win ratio had been consistent, at about 62% since 1992, and that demonstrated a lack of coordination and collaboration with provincial unions, especially in areas of core skills. Eastern Province rugby union was currently under the administration function of SARU. Its commercial arm was in liquidation. Western Province Rugby Union was also challenged with liquidity issues. However, despite much pushing by the Committee, the SARU President would not comment on the liquidation, as he said that it was sub judice. SARU showed satisfactory performance in all KPIs of transformation. Black player representation in the Springboks increased, and GIR targets were exceeded. 400 new schools and 635 newly trained coaches, plus the Vuka programme, would all promote rugby, and pleasing increases in women and wheel-chair rugby were seen. 3 500 coaches, 1 500 referees, and 200 accredited club-wise administrators were trained through skills development. SARU had changed its constitution to be able to intervene where provincial unions faced financial or structural challenges and will be discussing how best to streamline at a forthcoming meeting.

Members asked if SARU still stood by its transformation plans, and commented on apparent lack of synergy. They asked how government was held to account to support transformations and what was being done in all schools to ensure that there were adequate facilities. They enquired about sponsorships, whether anything could be done to mitigate against the long distances the Griqua players had to travel and asked about leadership in the provinces that were not represented. They asked about coach confidence, selection processes, whether the Western Province Union Chairperson was reviewing his role, and mixed sentiments were expressed about the position of the Springbok coach and selection processes, as well as whether anything could have been done about the liquidation. Members asked about the impact of the penalty on the bidding and image. Various other questions were posed to the individual unions, largely about how they would encourage schools to become more involved, strategies for women in rugby, policies for overseas players and what specifically was being done to assist previously disadvantaged communities and schools. Measures to support the new Springbok coach were raised by many who also emphasised that it is imperative for SARU to support the national coach. Members tried, but did not obtain a precise answer on the media statement issued by SARU on 26 November and whether this referred to a planned review. 

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson expressed her concerns about the few attendees, despite the large venue booked for the meeting. She offered condolences to Mr P Moteka (EFF) on his loss. The Committee expressed its interests in areas pertaining to sports nationwide, and this was the first time that engagement was being conducted that included the provincial unions and the SA Rugby Union (SARU). During the recent South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) conference, in which appointments of members were to take place, it was only the Chairperson who had received an invitation. The Committee anticipates the resolution of issues pertaining to provincial unions and South African Rugby Union (SARU) because the recent state of South African rugby was causing concern. The Chairperson said this engagement is a follow-up to the previous meeting held on 19 April 2016. The Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) released a report stating that there is an improvement in rugby at the national level, but resistance is still seen at provincial level. Transformation cuts across race, gender, governance, procurement, and demographic principles. SARU pledged to address its gender-related issues after criticism by the Committee and the Committee thus expects to see an overview of the financial performance of SARU and provincial unions.

She commented that the President of SARU had arrived about 10 minutes after the official starting time of the meeting, and asked that the late arrival of delegates should not become a norm.

Members discussed the order of proceedings, and the Chairperson noted that two provincial unions were absent without apologies.

Griquas Rugby Union Presentation
Mr Monte Engelbrecht, Representative, Griquas Rugby Union, tendered an apology for Mr Jannie Louw, President, Griquas Rugby Union. The union has only one black manager in its management. Identified strategic partners of the entity include the Provincial Department of Sport Art and Culture, sports councils on district level, local businesses and sponsors which provide financial support to the entity, and SARU. The union has3 Black male referees, 1 female referee, and some Coloureds, but the majority are Whites. There are 203 coaches. The majority hail from Van Drutten. There is one black male coach and one coloured female coach. There are two white female coaches, 58 Coloured males, and 141 White males.

He described the club footprint. There are 13 clubs in Namaqua District Municipality, 9 clubs in Francis Baard, 7 clubs in Logan (Namaqua), 5 in Khara Hais Municipality, 8 in Pixley Ka Seme District Municipality, and 7 clubs in John Taole Gaetsewe District Municipality. The Get Into Rugby (GIR) programme which was spear-headed by Mr Matsaung Mphomade has made great strides in the province and the women’s rugby project statistics reflected 1 Black, 5 Coloureds, and 1 White in the junior level whist there are 4 Blacks, 35 Coloureds, and 3 Whites at the senior level. The project involved 18 schools and 2 clubs. In order to facilitate transformation in the game, the province is committed to a number of development projects involving coaches.

Free State Rugby Union
Mr Jerry Segwaba (Deputy President, Free State Rugby Union) reported that the organisation had a positive financial report as the province won the Currie Cup and the league in the women’s division. He informed the Committee that the main sponsor, Toyota, has also branded the stadium as “Toyota Park” and has committed R15 million for sponsorship at a rate of R5 million per annum. As reported, the entity is fully compliant with its constitution and has a functional and vibrant governance system in place, which operates within corporate governance principles. There were also no issues impacting on the union as regards affiliates, and the organisation remains capable of exerting the necessary influence and control over the game and in its territory.

SARU had done a review of this entity, and it achieved a total governance score of 60 out of the possible 64, and a score of 126 out of the possible 128 in regard to administration. 40% of the union’s employees in senior and middle management positions are black. There is a proper strategic plan in place for both professional and amateur rugby programmes. Annual operational plans and budgets are in place. The union is capable of reporting the outcomes of the programmes.

He noted that the excellent performance management system assists the union to assess and track progress on delivery of strategic plan and to assess the appropriate staff responsible to deliver on their KPIs agreed in their performance contract.

In line with the financial and commercial performance of the entity, the organisation achieved 64 out of the total score of 76. It has an excellent financial system and processes in place to ensure prudent financial management and control. The union also has medium to long term commercial partners, is currently in the process of signing some sponsors, and there are currently no financial issues that prohibit the entity from developing and transforming the game. The organisation also implements a GIR programme to provide access to more schools and a total of 4 352 players were recruited for the year. Grassroots development for teenage girls' rugby remains a huge challenge for the entity as it is basically non-existent.

Mr Segwaba said excellent recruitment and retention plans have been developed and all training programmes are implemented and recorded on a database. However, the training of black coaches and referees is a challenge. This union performs well in all SARU domestic competitions, especially at a junior level and it is anticipated that improvements will be made.

Leopards Rugby Union
Mr Eugene Fourie, Chief Executive Officer, Leopards Rugby Union, extended the apology of the Union’s President, who was unable to be present at this meeting.

Mr Makwezi Best, Representative, Leopards Rugby Union, reported that as a result of the organisation’s governance structures and processes in place, the constitution had been aligned to ensure 50% black representation. Business administration in the organisation addressed basic requirements, whilst there is a need to appoint more black people in middle and senior management. Financial systems are in place, and the BEE rating is currently at level 6, as the union is currently being audited for an improved rating.

As regards transformation in the organisation, the school level player base is very vibrant with 6 800 new players in 50 primary schools, 52 coaches have been trained and accredited, South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) activated the Vuka program where 24 high schools with 64 teams in 3 categories (under-15, under-16, under-17), including 1 056 boys and 352 girls, were afforded the opportunity to play rugby. Through training and education, 60 of the 480 accredited coaches are Black and 40 of the 128 referees are Black. Mr Best informed the Committee that there is a need to recruit and train more Black coaches and referees. As regards team demographics, 18% of under-19 players are Black, 25% of under-21 players are Black, and the senior team is comprised of 17% Black players. Funding is being secured to provide scholarships for black players and there are plans for VukaSizwe Trust to train school leavers in artisanships. In women’s rugby, there are currently 350 registered players and 352 players who were introduced through the Vuka programme will significantly influence the game. Elite squads for all age groups have more than 30% black representation. The union has a good working relationship with the provincial government which gives access to non-traditional and township schools for all sporting codes.

He noted the financial information. The 2015 financial report of the entity depicted a decrease in total liabilities from R5.5 million in 2014 to R5.0 million in 2015, and an increase in assets from R3.55 million in 2014 to R4.06 in 2015. The entity had a profit of R1.24 million in the 2015 financial year as opposed to one of R999 214 in 2014. Total cash in hand at the end of the year amounted to R127 624.

Western Province Rugby Union
Mr Thelo Wakefield, President: Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU),reported that to align the union with SARU requirements, 16.84% of its players as regards 2016 Super Rugby participation are Black whilst 20.38% are Coloureds and 62.77% are White players. As per Super Rugby 2016 starting, 15.83% were Blacks, 27.08% were Coloureds, while 57.08% were White players. For Currie Cup match day, 5.2% were Blacks, 22% were Coloureds, and 72.36% were Whites. For the Currie Cup 2016 7.4% were Blacks, 21.48% were Coloureds, and 71.11% were Whites. Statistics for Currie Cup qualifiers 2016 (match day) revealed a participation of 5.8% Blacks, 34.74% Coloureds, and 59.41% Whites while for Currie Cup qualifiers 2016 (starting), 7.61% were Blacks, 34.28% were Coloureds, and 58.09% were Whites.

The representation of under-21 players in the 2016 match day were described, as 13.63%  Blacks, 25% Coloureds, and 61.36% Whites, while for starting, Blacks were 13.33%, 26.66% were Coloureds, and 60% were Whites. As regards under-19  match day in 2016, 16.45% were Blacks, 28.57% were Coloureds, and 54.96% were Whites whilst for under-19, 2016 starting, Blacks accounted for 19.52%, 21.90% were Coloureds, and 58.57% were Whites.

For the 7s Kenya, the emerging team squad is comprised of 8% Black, 52% Coloured, and 42% White and for ladies match day 2016, Blacks were 53%, 35.60% were Coloureds, and 10.60% were Whites. For ladies starting 2016, Blacks accounted for 50%, Coloureds were 42.22%, and Whites were 7.77% and as regards ladies 7s, Blacks were 6.25%, Coloureds were 50%, and Whites were 43.75%. The human resource footprint revealed that fewer Blacks were employed in the organisation as there were more Whites and Coloureds. Over 30% of the union’s 19 suppliers have Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) level 2 ratings.

The major challenges of the union include:
- the widening gap between amateur and professional ranks over the last 10 years
- a hard pathway for club players into top union professional teams
- the physical and technical competitiveness of the sport
- preservation of the dignity and pride of players in a traditionally unwelcoming and unforgiving environment.      

A case study of Chevandre van Schoor was considered. Despite his talent and enormous sacrifices for the sport,Chevandre van Schoor no longer plays competitive rugby, due to inadequate support facilities for rugby players in the province. The first identified gap in the union is the conditioning in amateur players; most of the players have day jobs and only practice in the evenings and it takes time in the professional environment to develop an amateur player to the professional level. Another gap identified is the strength, as well as body weight and height norms required to participate in the Super Rugby or main Currie Cup. To bridge the identified gaps, a two prong approach consisting of Talent ID programme and Incubator Programme was adopted.

SA Rugby Union (SARU) Presentation
Mr Mark Alexander, President: South African Rugby Union, reported that the entity faced enormous challenges in 2016. He informed the Committee that most of the core group of experienced players were retired in 2015 and there are currently 25 new players, with only seven older players, compared to the All Blacks team which only has four new players , while the rest are older players with years of professional experience. Coupled with this challenge had been the injury of 27 players in the Springbok team.

He noted that the lack of a coherent strategy to blood young talent over the years had caught up with the entity. He reiterated that the new players and management team were just starting from scratch. A major challenge was the contrast in methods adopted by unions, as to the manner in which core skills are delivered. The challenge will be mitigated by mid-December 2016, by providing a blueprint of delivery for core skills in rugby. As regards the turnaround strategy of SARU, work had begun on the coaching blueprint, to align with the Super Rugby franchises, in preparing and identifying the national needs and a Coaching Indaba would be held on 12 December 2016 to bolster the intervention. A Conditioning Indaba is also scheduled for 7 December 2016, where a blueprint will be developed and a review scheduled for 13 December will involve the staff, coach and players of the Springbok team. The selection policy of overseas players will be reviewed as the majority of the players arrive a week before the matches, which makes it cumbersome for the coach to establish a strategy for the game. Mr Alexander said SARU will review and address the outcomes of reviews, and act accordingly to “turn the boat around”.

He noted that the winning ratio has been 63% since 1992, which was partly influenced by lack of coordination and collaboration with provincial unions, especially in areas of core skills. The Eastern Province Rugby Union is currently under the administration function of SARU, whilst its commercial arm is in the process of liquidation. Since SARU assumed the administrative function of the province in 2015, all age groups played at provincial level and all normal activities of rugby in the province were realised. Mr Alexander said that he would not comment on the liquidation, as it is a legal process and there are several hearings on-going.

SARU had satisfactory performance and improvements in all KPIs of transformation. There was an improvement as regards the EPG report, from 42% in 2015 to 73% in 2016. This process is carefully managed, using an online scorecard. The Springbok team Black players' representation increased from 35% to 40%, and GIR targets were exceeded since 160  000 children were targeted before 2019, and 169  000 children had been accounted for thus far. 

As regards access control, there are 400 new schools and 625 trained coaches and the Vuka programme, which targeted schools in rural areas, performed satisfactorily.

Women in rugby participation increased and wheel chair rugby expanded its footprint from four to seven regions. 3 500 coaches, 1 500 referees, and 200 accredited club-wise administrators have been trained through skills development. A meeting on 9 December 2016 aims to propose major structural changes to streamline the delivery of the game, in terms of increasing the number of independent representatives on the board. SARU has also included a clause in its constitution to intervene in scenarios where provincial unions encounter financial constraints. To actualise this,  financial status of unions are actively monitored.

Mr D Bergman (DA) apologised for arriving late at the meeting. He congratulated Mr Mark Alexander on his appointment as a SASCOC board member and hoped the SARU President would have time for both SARU and SASCOC, as it is imperative that both entities must succeed in fulfilling their mandates. Speaking to the recent European performance of the Springboks, he enquired about the inputs of SARU in supporting the Springbok coach. He enquired if SARU was committed to its transformation plans, as there are situations where there is no synergy between transformation through the EPG and SARU. Mr Bergman asked how the government is held accountable to assisting with the transformation plan. He commented that during oversight visits, the Committee had been shown projects labelled “transformation”, which actually were merely providing a multipurpose court, a ball, and uniforms. Coaching, infrastructure and attempts to get an even playing field, were missing. He added that in sports-oriented schools, students have access to gyms, psychiatrists, psychologists, coaches and physiotherapists, but he wanted to know if there was anything in place to provide all of these facilities across all schools. He enquired if the provincial unions and SARU were attracting or were short of sponsorships.

The Chairperson also congratulated Mr Alexander on his appointment as a board member of SASCOC.

Mr M Mabika (NFP) welcomed all the presentations. He noted the comment of the Griquas Rugby Union that the funds required for transformation and development were instead having to be spent in travelling long distances, and he asked if there are any interventions in place to mitigate that issue. He told SARU that the state of the Springbok team is of concern, and the coach appears to be lost and confused about bugging issues. There were also disparities between the statements of the coach and captain of the team, and he enquired about the current state of the Springboks. Mr Mabika questioned the absence of the Border Rugby Union and asked if there was leadership in the province, and if any measures have been instituted to rescue the situation. He said the absence of the provincial union was an indicator of the state of its affairs.

Mr M Malatsi (DA) enquired about the performance deliverables for the national team coach, and asked if SARU has confidence in the coach. He asked if the SARU leadership, at the highest level, has engaged with players, in order to ascertain their confidence in the coach. In regard to selection and securing of player contracts, he asked about the structures in place to contract new and younger players, saying the Committee was aware that the current players’ performance might not be optimal as a result of their ages. He asked the WPRU if the current President of the union has considered reviewing his role with the union, considering the looming liquidation of its commercial arm also. He enquired if Mr Wakefield felt any degree of culpability and if that liquidation could have been avoided.

Mr Malatsi thought that the Griquas had committed a massive error in the classification of its union. Looking at the demographics of the coaches, there was one black male coach only. The same was seen in the management in clubs. Mr Malatsi enquired from all other provinces, except the Western Province, about the alignment of their transformation processes with EPG. He asked about SARU’s interpretation of the penalties imposed by the Minister, and the impacts of the penalty on the bidding and corporate image of SARU, as the entity had still proceeded with its bid despite the penalty.

Ms D Manana (ANC) welcomed all the presentations. She lamented that Griffons Rugby Union seemed to have no regard for the Committee as it is the second time this union failed to appear for engagements, despite receiving a timeous invitation. She congratulated the trio of Seabelo Senatla, Rasta Rashivhenge, and Jean de Villiers, who were awarded honours in various categories at world rugby awards in London. She inquired if Griquas rugby union had any plans to encourage black schools to play rugby, as the Committee would love to witness racial transformation in key top management positions, and wondered if the union also had a coaching profile to balance the racial issues. She commended Borders Rugby Union (in its absence), noting that it had achieved approximately 90% of its transformation targets, despite sponsorship challenges. She stated that Leopards Rugby Union has a strong presence in schools, and asked about interventions to encourage Black schools and schools in rural areas to participate in rugby as part of the transformation process.

In regard to the Western Province Rugby Union, she noted that the percentage of white females involved in rugby was high. She asked about any interventions to assist Chevandre van Schoor, who no longer participates in competitive rugby. She commended SARU on its racial and gender transformation initiatives and suggested that instead of considering sacking Mr Allister Coetzee, adequate support should rather be rendered to him as the Springbok coach. Sacking the coach would breed suspicions that SARU already has a favourite candidate to replace the coach.

Mr M Filtane (UDM) congratulated the Free State Rugby Union on their emergence as 2016 Currie Cup champions. He inquired about the percentage of Black suppliers that are supported, in terms of procurement, the percentage of players from rural areas, and the percentage of players from farms. He asked if Leopards Rugby Union is comfortable with having only 17% of Black players in its senior team and how the entity intends to achieve 2019 transformation targets. He asked the WPRU if the old black clubs that used to play rugby in Langa, Nyanga, and Gugulethu are still active. He sought clarity about the impacts of provisional liquidation on the stability and progress of rugby in the province. He also congratulated the SARU President on his new appointment and stated that the poor performances by SA franchises in Super Rugby were clear indications of underlying challenges and the current Springbok coach inherited a bunch of players without character. He commended the appointment of the current Springbok coach who, according to Mr Filtane, is the first coach ever in the history of South African rugby with the sole intention to transform rugby at the highest level in the country. He emphasised that replacing the coach should not be considered or debated at any level. Mr Filtane stated that the current coach deserves a chance, and reminded the Committee that other Springbok coaches had also had a rough start. 

Mr Filtane enquired when a policy would be developed to accommodate overseas players. He asked what the percentage of such players was in the senior team. He pointed out that overseas players are expected to be loyal to their primary employers, the clubs which play a totally different style of rugby, compared to South African rugby. He noted that the overseas players are paid huge amounts, spend very little time with the team coach, and are expected to “perform miracles” and win games, whilst South Africa remains a secondary employer to the players. He said that if clear policies are not developed, upcoming home-based players will be discouraged. He commented that there are also different provincial playing styles, and whilst the national coach is saddled with the responsibility of crafting a team from provincial players, he is not expected to teach the basics of rugby, as there have been irregularities in provincial playing styles lately.

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) welcomed the presentations, and inquired what the interventions are in place to assist previously disadvantaged communities and schools.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) commended the presentations and congratulated SARU for amending the clause that previously prevented interference in provincial unions in terms of administration and transformation. He said that SARU had also intervened in the Eastern Cape Province, which had outstanding issues. He urged that Griquas Rugby Union should be assisted with the fact that they had to travel long distances to play games, as this Union might have overstretched its resources. He said that transformation must be geared towards ensuring future sustainability and competitiveness.

Commenting on the geopolitical alignment, he said that SARU must intervene, as Free State, with a rugby union only accounting for part of the province and not the whole. He said there is a challenge in North Central as well, as there is no clarity if Blue Bulls cover Gauteng and Limpopo provinces. He said that SARU is on course with its target but more interventions are required to ensure the compliance of provincial unions.

The Chairperson inquired about measures to support the new coach as it would be pointless for the Committee to support the coach, when SARU does not. She asked if SARU has concerns about the coach. She enquired about the impact of the injury of 27 players on the squad and performance. She inquired how disadvantaged schools are involved in the school programmes, and emphasised that every new role presents challenges, and it is imperative for SARU to support the national coach. She said that although there are substantive improvements with SARU’s interventions, more needs to be done.

She stated that the entities not present must report to the Committee and furnish written explanations for their absence from his engagement, despite the massive challenges that were faced.

Mr Alexander responded that in regard to the performance of Springbok team, a full review of the coach and players is under way and the report will be made public when it is finalised. He added that player welfare should also be considered, when assessing the performance of the team. The national plays a lot of rugby, and consequently energy and fitness levels are reduced towards the end of each year. He said that transformation is imperative for SARU, and is regarded as a long term survival for the entity. SARU engages with schools to facilitate the participation of children in rugby even though the approach poses unique challenges. He confirmed that four MECs have been engaged and programmes have been rolled out to ensure the long term sustainability of sports and rugby nationwide. He informed the Committee that there is a shortage of adequate facilities, there are no funds for development initiatives, and engagements were made with the government to seek assistance accordingly. Mr Alexander affirmed that sponsorship, which is greatly influenced by the economic climate, poses a challenge and the organisation is currently interacting with some sponsors to address that challenge. He said the Griquas transport challenge was being considered by SARU. Funds expended on transport can be effectively utilised for other mandates if teams play games within their provinces and competitions are broken down into regions. He clarified that Border and Griffons Rugby Unions were absent from the meeting, but the Eastern Cape Province was not.

He advised that the penalty prevented SARU from bidding, but there was a qualification process that was completed. If the entity fails the EPG in 2017, there will be restrictions from bidding.

He further said that the organisation has broadened its base as regards rugby programme targets in public schools and rural areas, with the involvement of 168 000 schools, with more to be rolled out in the near future. In terms of team representation, he reported that SARU is on track, in terms of the agreement signed with the government, and this would also be reviewed in 2017. He noted the comment on the poor performance of franchises and said the big exit of overseas players contributed a major role, as provinces are forced to play with the available players. SARU is unable to compete with the Rand to Dollar exchange rates as overseas players earn about six times more than the amount offered in South Africa. SARU is considering downsizing the number of franchises and a policy is being developed in which home-based players would be given preference.

He said the skills blueprint and coaching Indaba will address issues of coaching standards within the country and the entity’s programmes are focused on rural areas and public schools. Mr Alexander said the geopolitical alignment is on the entity’s agenda for the event on 9 December 2016.

Mr Wakefield responded that he does not see a reason to consider his role with the Western Province Rugby Union. Liquidation is a legal process, and a court case is due for hearing on 12 December 2016, and he would not comment to anyone whilst the judicial process was ongoing. He said 2016 was a very unfortunate year for the union, and 11 of the 27 players with injury are “players of colour”. He added that regular players like Scarra Ntubeni, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, and Siya Kolisi, who could have made the springbok team list, had all sustained long term injuries and the African Black Sti Sithole had opted to sign up with the Eastern Province Rugby Union. Mr Wakefield mentioned that the injuries prevented the Union from being on top of the transformation targets and the union has a rugby institute where the intake of “players of colour” is not below 50%. He said the union takes advantage of the Currie Cup qualifier in wooing young players into the Currie Cup senior team. He said that provisions have been made and two coaches have been appointed; 1 to scout for talents in Elsies River and Athlone area and the other to work as a development officer in Langa, Gugulethu, and Khayelitsha areas. He said the union made 6 club rugby players provincial players in 2015 and rugby keeps growing in townships with clubs like Blue Jets, Busy Bees, Young Brothers, Young Ideas, amongst others and 11 clubs that play in Khayelitsha in the Sunday league. These 11 clubs do not play for a cup, but for a sheep. Rugby is vibrant in Black townships, where games run from 9 in the morning to 6 in the evening on Sundays. The appointed coach has been instrumental in the successful organisation of the teams and games. He confirmed that the Union hosts Easter heritage tournament and invites clubs from provinces like Eastern Cape to participate. The Norman Mbiko Tournament was also hosted in October 2016, to honour him for his contribution to rugby in the country.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Easter heritage tournament is very active and entertaining in the province.

Mr Jerry Segwaba responded that the Free State Union strives to play inspirational rugby and achieve 50% transformational targets for all Currie Cup and Super Rugby players. He echoed that the recruitment and retrenchment strategy has always been a challenge for the Free State, especially as it pertains to retaining players. He pointed out that the majority of players that participated in Rio Sevens Olympics hail from the Free State, but due to the financial constraints of this Union, many of the players soon would be lost to bigger unions. In the approaching season, the Union anticipates raising a team which will not only compete for, but is also capable of retaining the Currie Cup for the next two seasons. He said the Union does not consider winning the Super Rugby tournament for the next two seasons but is rather concentrating on winning at least nine games in the current season and emerge as one of the top three teams in the SA Super Rugby conference.

In regard to transformation and the academic programme,he reported that a strategy is being developed whereby Cheetahs is portrayed as a platform for players to attain recognition. He said the Union has retained seven players from the Free State academy that participated in both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby, but there are still challenges in retaining players overall. .In the previous season, there were 16 players through the union’s academic programme who played in different ranks whilst qualifying for both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby tournament.

Mr Monte Engelbrecht replied that Griquas Rugby Union has a strategic approach which addresses focus areas. It has revised its administration and reporting functions, and also redefines the internal structure and the provincial operation. These will assist in establishing rugby hubs in the region to mitigate its transportation issues and will also assist to secure sponsors at the regional level. Commenting on the remarks about the percentage of Black coaches in the Union, he said the Get Into Rugby (GIR) programme is very vibrant in Griquas as many schools, administrators, and coaches that are targeted were not predominantly playing rugby. Most hail from rural areas, and Griquas is currently developing a sustainable approach. Mr Engelbrecht reported that Currie Cup is the benchmark for the Union, which currently has 45% contracted Black players for 2017, and plans to broaden its player base in areas where rugby is not being played. He said the GIR will assist the entity in broadening the player base.

Mr Mabika clarified that whilst he is not trying to debate the issue of the Springbok coach, he had overheard Mr Alexander’s comment that he cannot provide answers until the finalisation of the player and coach review. He said that the response by Mr Alexander was only appropriate for the engagement but by stating that players’ welfare issues might be responsible for the poor performance of the team, he was already providing answers. He sought clarity on the statement made by the Springbok coach in a media release that “he accepts responsibility for the current state of the team especially as it pertains to the season”.

Mr Eugene Fourie responded that the Leopards Rugby Union has a database of 1 058 schools that participate in rugby(200 high schools and 858 primary schools). He explained that of the 858 primary schools, 50 of the schools participate in GIR programme, 54 primary schools from the rural areas play in the league, 28 black high schools play in the league and 24 high schools are in the rural project and four academies have been established with the assistance of the North West Government. In these academies, expert coaches have been used to train Black under-15 players in 2016 to prepare them for future games. The academies will be expanded in 2017 to include more under-15, under-17, under-18 players and to school-going female players.

Mr Malatsi said he regarded the response by the WPRU president inadequate, and stated that information should not be withheld. The press statement issued by SARU on 26 November did not answer his question, but was a clear indication of the discussions taking place after the match. He asked again if the SARU President and players have affirmed their confidence in the coach. Mr Malatsi said there is no logic in deferring the response on liquidation till after the upcoming judicial review.

Ms Manana commended the response by Leopards Rugby Union. She asked if there are any plans to encourage schools that are not currently participating in rugby. In relation to the fate of the Springbok coach, she noted that, from her own experience as a netball player, it is possible for players to sabotage matches if they do not want to be led by a particular coach. She commended SARU’s programme which strengthened education by providing aid boxes for books in libraries for some students in rural areas in Mpumalanga.

The Chairperson said that there are deliverables by SARU which have not been forwarded to the Committee. SARU made interventions in some areas, where school girls were provided with uniforms and some other students were provided with kits. She commented that SARU had also made interventions in areas beyond the mandates of the entity.

Mr Filtane said answers were not provided as regards procurement related questions referred to the Free State Rugby Union. Although he had asked SARU questions, he suggested that as part of the upcoming work on the review, some “serious intelligence work” should be conducted as there are clear suspicions that there are plans to undermine the Springbok team and the coach. He remarked that a “blatant sabotage” of matches by professional players in the Springbok team is being seen by the nation. The Eastern Cape had, for many decades, been the breeding ground for African players until its sudden collapse. The Blue Bulls appeared “to bubble only and achieve no results” and adequate measures need to be taken in the province to assist. He noted that in the 500 km stretch from the Kraai River to Bizana there was a system of “in-house apartheid” being practised, as there are no administrators in the entire area and there are several “endemic divisions” within the Eastern Cape, which he thought in large measure probably explained the Eastern Cape's absence. The  current Union President in the province keeps appearing in the media for the wrong reasons. He added that when numbers dwindle in the Springbok team, only a few citizens would understand that it was birthed by internal issues.

The Chairperson agreed that there are management and administrative problems in the unions. In the Free State Rugby Union, development should ideally involve a situation where players can be selected from provincial teams ,and not only from Grey College. She enquired how players from previously disadvantaged schools were included in the mainstream rugby. She commented that the media statement by SARU was a strong public opinion and the question from Mr Malatsi stemmed from the press statement issued, so that a response is needed. She commended WPRU for interventions in farms and rural areas.

The Committee informed Members about the presence of delegates from China in the meeting, and she briefly explained, to the visitors, the purpose and agenda of the meeting and stressed the importance of rugby as a sport in South Africa, which drove the Committee to try to attain transformation.

Mr Alexander responded that it would be irresponsible for him to respond when the Council has not met and he reiterated that no response could be given until the review is completed and the Council has made a decision. He urged members to bear with SARU until that time.

Mr Segwaba responded that the procurement policy of the Free State Rugby Union clearly stipulates that the entity is biased towards disadvantaged persons. He reiterated that responses will be given in writing on other procurement-related questions. Mr Segwaba clarified that whilst Grey College plays an important role in the development of rugby in the province, the majority of players, around 80% of the total number in the province, are not from the College but from surrounding areas.

Mr Fourie responded that with the intervention of the Leopards Rugby Union, programmes are continuously rolled out in rural areas. Schools that previously stopped playing rugby were being encouraged to start playing rugby again.

Mr Malatsi remarked that whilst he is avoiding having a “sparring session” over the required response, he would need some clarity on the context of the statement issued on 26 November 2016 ,as the statement had pronounced on a concluded review. He enquired if the media statement released was a response to the series of losses or underlying issues in the team, or was based on a reactionary performance of the team.

The Chairperson concurred with Mr Malatsi and inquired about the analysis of the released media statement.

Mr Alexander clarified that the media statement was a planned review. He said the Committee would be briefed again when the review scheduled for 9 December 2016 is completed.

The Chairperson agreed that SARU would be invited again after that date. She commended the high performing unions and said the Committee will support unions via oversights, and will schedule engagements in the near future.

Mr Alexander thanked Members for their rigorous engagements and recommendations.

Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Committee adopted, without any amendments, the minutes of meetings on:
12 October 2016
18 October 2016
19 October 2016
25 October 2016
1 November 2016
8 November 2016.

Other business
Mr Malatsi informed the Committee of his reassignment to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlement in 2017 and thanked members for all active engagements and motivations.

The Chairperson mentioned that Mr Malatsi will be missed by the committee as he is a role model for younger politicians.

Mr Mabika expressed his concern that he had missed most meetings because of his participation in other committees. He then inquired if any Committee member was invited to the National Sports Award or if any delegates were selected to represent the Committee. He lamented that other committees seemed to attend award ceremonies involving the entities they oversee, and felt that if no invitations had been forthcoming this Committee was being undermined.

The Chairperson agreed that the issue had been raised a couple of times. She confirmed that she received an invitation letter, addressed to the Chairperson only, but other Members did not. She thought it strange that she had had to attend the SASCOC event on her own budget. She lamented that the constitution had been queried, after so many years, at this conference, and noted that there were imminent court cases. Furthermore, the invitation to the awards had arrived very late, was not processed on time and then, for an illogical reason, had not been approved. She affirmed that concerns of the Committee Members will be followed-up, as the Committee had not been able to perform oversight.

Mr Mabika said Members of the Committee will depend on the Chairperson for guidance, but he was concerned that this pointed to the Committee being undermined.

Mr Bergman agreed. The Committee rarely was invited to participate in relevant conferences and Members are not always informed of upcoming events, certainly not in comparison to colleagues in other committees.

Ms Manana mentioned that there was increasing pressure being placed on the Chairperson if the application to the SASCOC event was rejected. She added that the Committee was supposed to attend events abroad, but this application was denied.

The Chairperson said the stance of members on invitations received is important. She added that when the Committee attended Lottery conferences, the Committee had been side-lined from some other events.

She thanked Mr Mabika for raising the issue and said that it would be addressed.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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: