Things looking up for EP Rugby
Thumping win and new sponsorship deal hopefully start of more successful era for union
EP Rugby teams do not win many rugby matches these days, so when they deliver a victory it is a moment to savour.
The once-bankrupt union then followed up a thumping win over the SWD Eagles by announcing a new sponsorship deal.
By any standards, this was a week to remember for the once-beleaguered union.
There was no disguising the delight on the face of EP Rugby president Andre Rademan as he stood in the tunnel at the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele congratulating the players.
What made the 59-31 SuperSport Rugby Challenge win over the SWD Eagles even more special was that it included nine sparkling tries by the home side.
Rademan was just as pleased on Thursday when he announced a “significant” sponsorship deal with Multisure for the Rugby Challenge.
“I am very proud of the guys for the win over SWD and this new partnership with Multisure will give us more muscle,” Rademan said.
“The first two years after I took over as president were very hard and on the field things did not go well.”
In 24 matches played last season, the EP Currie Cup First Division side and the EP U21 and EP U19 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 EP U21 team leaked a massive 695 points, while the U19 side bled 851 points in 12 outings.
“I know the public was very upset last year because we lost so many games, but they must remember it is not easy to build a union,” the president said.
“The first two years were just about building to get things in the boardroom back to normal after the liquidation. We also has to get the sponsorship and equity deals through.
“Now the next thing is to start winning on the field.
“It was a fight to get the union back to normality in the first two years after the new executive took over,” he said.
“In year three and four we want to build a winning team on the field in the PRO14, SuperSport Challenge and the Currie Cup.
“That is our next goal and the guys proved on the field against SWD that we can do it.
“We scored nine tries and when we slowed down towards the end the damage had been done. I am proud of this team and head coach Chumani Booi and his assistants.
“The road to winning on the field has begun.
“This is first time this team have played together and we must keep them together. However, they must keep their feet on the ground and there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We still have to face Free State, Western Province and the Sharks. There are some very tough games lying ahead so we cannot think too far ahead.”
The Elephants were bolstered by several Southern Kings PRO14 players for their game against the Eagles, and it remains unclear what happens once their contracts come to an end now that the PRO14 season has ended.
“EP will have to start contracting players for our Currie Cup season that will be played after the SuperSport Rugby Challenge,” Rademan said.
“It is vital for us to end top of the log in the Currie Cup First Division and try to get a playoff game to get back to the Premier Division.
“So we will have to start looking at contracts and build a professional side to put EP back where we should be. I do not want to talk too much about contracts at the moment.
“We are busy with negotiations with players and coaches and the financial committee is involved. Decisions will be made at executive level. We will try to keep our top players.”
Rademan has challenged the Elephants to charge all the way into the SuperSport Challenge final.
Whether the Kings have the credentials to go all the way will be tested to the full in Mossel Bay when they face a formidable Free State side on Sunday.
As satisfying as the win over the Eagles was, one swallow does not make a summer!