At last the strange financial and other decisions, lack of leadership, some blatant lies that had to be retracted publicly and the general monocratic management style of Western Province president Zelt Marais, are being addressed.
The Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU), staggering from one crisis to the next under their president Marais, has now been put on warning by SA Rugby: get your act in order or SA Rugby will take over the union’s management.
This follows an ‘emergency meeting’, according to Rapport, between officials of SA Rugby, Marais and the business arm of the WPRFU, which is in practice run by the union.
The meeting followed the receipt by SA Rugby of a letter, supported by most of the clubs, in which SA Rugby is requested to take over the responsibilities of the WPRFU, according to the Afrikaanse Sunday newspaper.
If this happens, it will be the be the first time that the national body interferes with the running of a solvent union, although it has previously taken action in the case of bankrupt unions such as Border and Eastern Province.
But then, Western Province is hovering on the brink of bankruptcy with a threat of a huge claim for damages from Flyt Property after Western province reneged on an undertaking with the property company.
According to Rapport, WP was earlier admonished about the negative publicity generated recently and the general state of affairs in the union, while concerns about the future of rugby in the region were also conveyed.
The letter from the clubs follows a turbulent two years since the controversial leadership and a number of precarious financial decisions under Marais. The letter requests SA Rugby to take responsibility for matters concerning the union in terms of the clause 28.5.3 of SA Rugby’s constitution ‘as we have lost all trust in the present executive’s leadership.’
▲ Despite the clubs’ dissatisfaction with Marais and his leadership, it seems unlikely that the president will be removed by a vote of no confidence at the WPRFU’s special meeting to be held on Monday. It is likely that he will be challenged at a presidential election at a later stage.
Players still in limbo about their future
▲ Stability at the top has become imperative. Stormers head coach John Dobson has at the time of writing not yet signed the option to prolong his stay in this position until 2024.
The uncertainty for players about the union’s future is thereby prolonged.
It is imperative that this issue be urgently resolved as a number of top players, including some senior Springboks, have been holding back on committing themselves to the union until there is clarity about the future and the finances of the union.