But remains mum on when he will quit
Controversial Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) president Cheeky Watson says he is ready to quit the cash-strapped union to pursue business interests, which he says he has neglected because of his rugby duties.
Watson, who has not spoken to the media in recent months, broke his silence after an EPRU meeting where he narrowly staved off a vote of no confidence.
Clubs wanting to overthrow Watson’s executive needed 63 votes to achieve a two-thirds majority, but they could only tally 52 at a meeting held at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
Though Watson would not give a date for his departure from the hot seat in EP Rugby, he said it could happen within the next couple of weeks.
“It is a door in my life that needs to close and not to be resurrected again,” he said.
Asked if his time as president had left a scar on him, he replied: “Absolutely. But it does help going back into that and picking up old bones.”
Watson said the negativity surrounding his role as president did not worry him.
“I have never been a populist and I have never worried about people’s opinions and what they think of me,” he said.
“If I tackle a job I tackle it with every fibre of my being and try to be as successful as possible.
“It was gratifying to see the support from clubs, but one needs to look at the bigger picture here and look at rugby as a whole within the province.
“With SA Rugby’s involvement they are moving it in the right direction and we have to give them the opportunity to have a free rein in running it.
“I am sure that EP Rugby can rise again because there are good people at the helm, but it needs everyone’s support.”
Watson said his time as president had taken its toll and that the negatives had far outweighed the positives.
“It is difficult to remember those days of Super Rugby in 2013 when we had capacity crowds at the stadium.”
Watson said he had not even waited for the result of the vote to be announced on Saturday.
“The request for this vote should not have been tabled in the first place because Saru are running EP Rugby, so it is neither here or there,” he said.
“Now I am considering my future. You feel you get to stage where you have done what you can do and I think we find the situation right now with EP Rugby is that Saru are putting in all the necessary structures and they are running everything.
“One has to think about and reconsider one’s future. Rugby has impacted my personal life tremendously when it comes to business. Now my entire focus needs to be on myself.
“These times have caused me to grow a lot more wiser and lot more patient.
“I have never been swayed by negativity, but the negativity has helped me grow as a human being and to take it on the chin and move forward.
“This has been one of my toughest battles. It has caused me to sit back and reflect.
“It has affected me not getting on with my own business and my own future.
“It has drastically affected my business plans all along, because I have not been able to pay much attention to it.”
Watson said he did not have the appetite to go through another election.
“I also do think SA Rugby need to be running rugby as long as possible so there is serious stability and the foundations are strongly set,” he said.
“It should not be matter of months but a couple of years that SA Rugby need to stay at the helm of EP.”
After Saturday’s meeting, administrator Monde Tabata stressed that, despite the no-confidence motion not succeeding, Saru remained in control of EP Rugby.
“Importantly, SA Rugby has the powers and responsibilities of the EP executive. Because this motion did not carry does not mean this executive comes back,” he said.
“SA Rugby is still in charge of EP Rugby until they complete the work they need to do. They will then return the union to the clubs.
“SA Rugby is here with a specific mandate and let us go forward,” Tabata said.