EP rugby set to be bailed out

Saru to put multimillion-rand rescue plan into play

SA RUGBY bosses are said to have approved a massive multimillion-rand rescue bailout plan to save the cash-strapped Eastern Province Rugby Union. It is expected that a top-level delegation will arrive in Port Elizabeth this week to have talks with EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson and his executive to discuss the way forward for the troubled union.

Sources at the heart of SA Rugby, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the plan was approved when SA Rugby bosses held their annual meeting in Cape Town on Friday.

“Although the rescue plan was approved, it was not discussed at the general council. However, SA Rugby officials will continue working with EP. They will be here in Port Elizabeth early this week to discuss the plan,” the source said yesterday.

According to the source, SA Rugby will write to disgruntled clubs and give them the date for a proposed special meeting, when a vote of no confidence against Watson and his executive will be delivered.

It is also believed SA Rugby executive members Monde Tabata and Francois Davids have been appointed as the administrators who will deal with EP’s problems.

Watson attended the meeting in Cape Town, but he has refused to comment on the cash crisis since the storm broke last year.

If the eleventh-hour rescue plan fails and the more than R18million owed to aggrieved players is not forthcoming by May 10, EPRU Rugby’s fall from grace could be placed under further scrutiny. A tentative date of May 7 was set by EP Rugby for the special meeting, at which unhappy clubs are planning to table a vote of no confidence in Watson and his executive.

It is known that disgruntled clubs are not happy with the date and have accused EPRU Rugby of employing delaying tactics.

After a report last Tuesday that EPRU had ignored a request to convene a special general meeting, a notice was sent to clubs informing them the tentative date of May 7 had been set.

The initial deadline for EPRU to respond to a request for the meeting by five clubs was by close of business last Thursday.

However, the delay in EPRU’s response to the request was met with anger.

“We received with regret the tentative date of May 7 proposed by EPRU. We find it is unconstitutional and yet another clear indication of how badly Cheeky has been running our union,” Booysen Pride RFC chairman Wayne Draghoender said.

The club was one of the five which submitted letters to EPRU requesting a special general meeting. “They [EPRU] received a request on March 3 and only sent a notice 27 days later for a meeting in two months? I mean, that is no longer a special meeting,” he said.

“We will escalate this matter to SA Rugby as we need a meeting this week. Anything less than that is not acceptable,” Draghoender said.

Clubs want the following issues discussed at the meeting:

  • The 2016 Currie Cup team;
  • Grand Challenge fixtures are not taking place until they are tabled to the union committee;
  • A vote of no confidence; and
  • The appointment of auditors.

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