The South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday that they had assumed administrative control of the Eastern Province Rugby Union.
This effectively sidelines EPRU President Cheeky Watson, who has stubbornly clung to power of the bankrupt union for the past year – despite several attempts to unseat him.
Monde Tabata, an independent member of the SARU executive committee, has been appointed to the role of administrator.
According to SARU’s statement the decision to action the intention of the SARU executive council was taken after “consultation” with Watson, and with the co-operation of the EPRU.
A letter formally advising the EPRU of the intention was delivered to the union on Monday.
Embattled Eastern Province Rugby Union President Cheeky Watson has had the first set of legal documents served on him.
The players organisation, MyPlayers, confirmed that an Application for Liquidation was brought – through their trade union SARPA – against the EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
This move comes after lengthy consultations with the various stakeholders concerned as well as the exploration of all legal options available.
It follows in the wake of confirmation that EP Rugby last week reached an agreement with 18 players (who did not receive Super Rugby contracts) over outstanding salaries.
EP Rugby needs to come up with 5 Million Rand by Sunday 31 January, or they will also face a Liquidation Application from the lawyer of the aforementioned players – Craig Jessop, a labour lawyer working for the firm Brown Braude and Vlok.
This move forced MyPlayers and SARPA’s hand.
On the day that the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) started sending letters to players informing them that they will NOT be offered contracts by the South African Rugby Union (SARU)-controlled Kings, the 1st player confirmed that he will be taking legal action against the Eastern Province Rugby Union.
Michael van Vuuren issued a statement in which he confirmed he will go the legal route.
SARPA have started sending letters to the players who will not be offered contracts by SARU – believed to be the bulk of the current Kings squad.
SARU has instead opted make use of Sevens and Under 20 players to fill the bulk of the Super Rugby squad, after taking control over from the near bankrupt EPRU last month.
Only a very small number of the current Kings will receive contract offers from SARU.
However, the players on Monday opted for a show of solidarity when they presented a petition to Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) President Cheeky Watson.
The SARPA letters is just the latest shocker in the escalating crisis in the Eastern Cape franchise.
Eastern Province rugby clubs plan to call a special general meeting to pass a motion of no-confidence in EPRU president Cheeky Watson.
According to reports, Watson was set to be served a motion of no confidence at the union’s annual general meeting last Friday, but the meeting was controversially postponed.
One club’s president said that in order to pass the motion of no confidence in Watson, 36 of the union’s clubs (20%) need to sign up.
He said that target would be easy to achieve and they would push to have the meeting as soon as possible.
EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, held a media conference at the EP Rugby offices on Wednesday afternoon as financial issues continue to plague the union.
“This has never been about Cheeky Watson, it is about the Kings, it has always been about the Kings,” said Watson.
Watson said it was important to take note of the press release from SA Rugby issued on Tuesday 17 November 2015.
“There has always been a Plan B; I put the call in to SARU to come and bring stability, so that we can stop hemorrhaging players and focus on our preparations for Super Rugby,” he said.
Watson said he was constantly engaging with SA Rugby, including Rugby boss, Oregan Hoskins, and that the details around the implementation of the assistance still needed to be fleshed out.
“The cash flow crisis we have experienced is like a Greek tragedy. We want to thank SARU for stepping in to assist and we welcome whatever contributions they bring,” he said.
Watson said part of the intervention envisioned was to have members of the SARU mobi-unit come down to assist in support roles and bolster the Southern Kings coaching staff.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Tuesday agreed to assist the Eastern Province Rugby Union by taking control of the Southern Kings franchise in Vodacom Super Rugby.
The action followed through a decision taken by the Executive Council of SARU some weeks ago to step into the Kings’ affairs if certain expectations were not realised.
The decision was actioned as a result of the on-going cash flow problems at the Union after the president of EP, Mr Cheeky Watson, contacted Mr Oregan Hoskins, the president of SARU, to ask him to assist.
“We gave the Kings as long as possible to resolve their issues through their own efforts but the point had been reached where they could wait no longer,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU.
“It is a decision we have had to take reluctantly but it is now 102 days until Vodacom Super Rugby moves into a new era with new teams and new nations taking part and we collectively agreed we could not allow South Africa’s new entrant to be under-prepared.”
The Kings financial saga just seems to get bigger and bigger, the boil getting larger and larger… the bubble waiting to burst.
This week alone we have already featured more articles about the latest financial crisis, now we hear that the EP Kings have most probably been funded by money originating from the pockets of Rate-payers in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.
In addition, the SARPA deadline demand for the EP Kings players and staff salaries to be paid by midnight on 10 November has come and gone and the salaries have not been paid, effectively making each and every EP Kings player a free agent to source alternative placement to continue their rugby careers.
High-level discussions between Eastern Province Rugby, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) took place in Port Elizabeth on Thursday to review the current and future financial stability of the union.
The talks stemmed from concerns over the recent delayed payments to EP Kings players.
SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins, SARU GM Operations and Finance, Basil Haddad, and SARPA CEO Piet Heymans met EP Rugby officials.
Mr Hoskins said he had full confidence in the current leadership under EP Rugby President Cheeky Watson.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) may have to bail out the Eastern Province Rugby Union to end a player strike.
An ongoing stand-off between EP Rugby and the players, over the non-payment of salaries, has put in jeopardy the Currie Cup match between the Xerox Golden Lions and EP Kings in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The latest controversy follows a similar dispute in July, when New Zealander Carlos Spencer – then a member of the coaching panel – walked away from the team over non-payment of salaries.
The players were eventually paid at the end of July, with some reports claiming that it was the result of a SARU intervention.
Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) President Cheeky Watson responded with a terse “no comment”, when approached over the ongoing financial crisis at the Port Elizabeth-based union.
The South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) confirmed they will meet with the players on Thursday, as the latest stand-off drags into a 3rd day.
EP Kings players and the union’s management are again at loggerheads over apparent delays in player payments.
The cash-strapped union was unable to pay players for several months earlier in the season, but the issue was thought to be resolved last month when EP president Cheeky Watson announced that the players were compensated up until the end of July.
However, similar issues appear to have risen again with regards to August’s salaries, and according to CEO Charl Crous they are working at “resolving the matter”.
There is believed to be a threat of a player strike, although Crous said he received no communication in that regard.
EP Kings rugby players have received their overdue salary payments.
The cash-strapped union was unable to pay its players in recent months, but according to reports, players were finally compensated.
EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson said his players had been paid up to date and were also compensated for any inconveniences.
Watson would not elaborate further but it is thought that the payment includes the double pay packet promised because of the delays in securing a new sponsor.
There is however still no news on the Kings’ new lucrative sponsorship, believed to be in the region of R 200 Million.
The EP Kings have expressed their disappointment after former coach Carlos Spencer voiced his dissatisfaction at unpaid wages.
Spencer earlier this week parted ways with the Kings and – through his attorney David Jones – the former All Black has attributed his departure from the Kings to their continued troubles in meeting wage obligations.
The Kings on Thursday insisted that Spencer and his lawyers’ claims were “simply not true”.
“The initial problems we had with Carlos’ salary was due to his insistence of having his funds paid into an offshore account,” EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, said via a media statement.
Watson said this resulted in delays that arose out of the administrative compliance and paperwork issues.
The Eastern Province Rugby Referees Society will return to adjudicating Eastern Province Rugby Union club matches with immediate effect, after the EPRU cancelled all club games last weekend over the poor treatment of referees.
Eastern Province Rugby Union President, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that he had met with the referees last week to address their concerns.
EP Rugby CEO Anele Pamba has resigned from his position with immediate effect, leaving President Cheeky Watson in “shock”.