How to make EP rugby proud again
He was so distraught when he heard his EP Elephants U21 team had been trampled 173-0 by Western Province that he nearly had a heart attack, EP Rugby Union boss Andre Rademan said.
In 24 matches played in the recently completed season, the EP Currie Cup First Division side, the EP U21 and EP19 teams lost every game they played.
All three teams finished bottom of their respective logs, and left the once-proud union embarrassed by a series of heavy defeats.
In only six matches, the U21 team leaked a massive 695 points, while the U19 side bled 851 points in 12 outings.
Rademan said urgent measures would be put in place during the off season to ensure there would be no repeat of 2018’s epic failures at junior and senior level.
At the heart of moves to get EP back on the winning track will be the formation of an academy.
“The structures must be right and we have to get the coaches in place,” Rademan said.
“It was a case of amateurs playing against professionals, because we did not have the finances to contract players.
“I did not expect the big scores, and when I heard of the 173-0 defeat against Province I nearly had a heart attack.
“There was a lot of pressure on me to withdraw the teams and people asked me to do that.
“I did not and so I take the responsibility for that decision.
“I wanted to honour the fixtures,” Rademan said.
“It is not always how you win, but how you play the game. It is easy afterwards to say we should have done that.
“At the time I thought that, right or wrong, we would continue to play and maybe it was the wrong decision.
“We said we would fulfil our fixtures and we did.
“The results left me devastated and depressed and I know the rich history of this province.
“Springboks have come from this province. How did we have scores like that?
“But you must look at what happened in the past. There was money and they contracted players and there was a huge amount of money.
“Additional players were also brought in from the outside.
“We have the talent here to turn it around, but it will require a huge effort from everyone to achieve this.
“The executive will be working with other partners in a joint effort to make this a proud union again.
“A major problem is other unions taking away our best players because they have money and academies.
“We must address these problems. The union cannot wait for another year. A workshop has been held and more meetings are planned.”
He said there was plenty of talent to lift EP’s fortunes.
“The challenges this executive had when we were voted in were financial and winning on the field,” he said.
“The financial turnaround has taken place and now it’s about results.
“Winning is our next obstacle and it is one we must address very seriously because time is running out.
“For next year we are looking at our constitution and an academy is on the cards. We cannot be a successful union without an academy.
“For the record, this executive did not close down the previous academy.
“The academy was in financial difficulties. It imploded and shut itself down because it was not sustainable.”