Hoskins looks to future as he quits Saru presidency

Oregan Hoskins has stepped down as Saru president. Picture: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images
Oregan Hoskins has stepped down as Saru president. Picture: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

Oregan Hoskins, who oversaw heady highs and miserable lows in South African rugby during the past decade, stepped down as SA Rugby Union (Saru) president yesterday.

Mark Alexander will take charge in the interim until the general council elects a permanent successor.

Hoskins can claim to have left SA rugby in a better place than he found it when he defeated Brian van Rooyen in 2006, although the trajectory of his reign did spiral downwards in its latter stages.

He leaves behind the nasty stink of the EP Rugby Union debacle, which remains unresolved even after Saru sent a team of administrators to sort out the mess in Port Elizabeth.

Business Day reports that Hoskins’s fractured relationship with Saru chief executive Jurie Roux may have been the straw that forced him to jump two years before the end of his third four-year term.

Roux is facing allegations that he misappropriated funds during his time as the financial director of the University of Stellenbosch and president of the Maties rugby club.

When the allegations surfaced that about R35-million had been moved from the university’s coffers to fund the rugby club, Saru’s executive council had already renewed Roux’s contract to end in 2021.

It put Saru in a precarious position and weakened Hoskins’s hold on his employee, Roux. Sar u’s exco ratified their 2014 decision to keep Roux in the job in March this year.

Hoskins had already confirmed he would not seek re-election at the end of his current term in two years’ time but, in a statement yesterday, he admitted to facing “tough challenges” that made him reconsider his position.

“I have enjoyed a remarkable 10½ years in one of the most highprofile roles in South African sport, and have enjoyed some incredible highs,” Hoskins said.

“There have also been plenty of challenges to confront, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s an indication of how much our sport matters in this country.

“At the time of my election, I never imagined that I would still be here 10 years later and I look back with considerable satisfaction over what has been achieved in that time.

“However, over recent months we have faced tough challenges and had some tough conversations, which have made me think about my role and my future.

“Being SA Rugby president has become a full-time job and, with my term due to end in 18 months’ time, I decided that it was now time to start the next phase of my career,” he said.

Under Hoskins, especially in the early years, the Springboks were allowed to flourish and the capture of the 2007 World Cup, the 2009 Tri-Nations and the British and Irish Lions tour win, and the SA Sevens’ World Series win that same year, were feathers in his cap.

The Hoskins regime appointees were also allowed to finish their tenures in charge of the Boks, something of an aberration compared to the trigger-happy nature that characterised previous tenures.

Hoskins also appointed two black Springbok coaches in his time – Peter de Villiers in 2008 and current head coach Allister Coetzee in April this year.

But Hoskins’s relationship with the former got off to a false start when at the announcement unveiling De Villiers as the Boks’ first black coach, Hoskins all but confirmed De Villiers was a political appointment and intimated that he was not there fully on merit.

It set the tone for a sour four years between head coach and administrator. It also revealed Hoskins’s grapples with issues of transformation in rugby.

He was often under pressure for the Springboks being deemed not representative of the country’s demographics.

Despite the Strategic Transformation Plan launched early last year, Saru was also lambasted by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for failing to meet its own transformation targets.

The minister took away their right to bid for international events.

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