WP and Stormers players are 'secure'
REACTION: Players representing Western Province and the Stormers can breathe a little easier. Tauriq Ebrahim reports from Newlands.
WP Rugby Football Union President Thelo Wakefield confirmed that the players' contracts "will remain secure" - despite announcing the liquidation of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
"In terms of the liquidation affecting the players and their participation, the short answer is no," Wakefield said, adding: "They will not be affected at all. They will get their salaries."
When the question was raised as to where the money would come from to pay the players, coaches and staff, Wakefield responded by saying: "It's all looked after."
Wakefield reiterated that WPRFU is "a voluntary association" which is independent of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd and that "the union will not be affected".
"As a member of SARU, the union is the ultimate custodian of both amateur and professional rugby in Western Province.
"The union will ensure that the various WP teams continue to function as they normally do and that the contracts of players remain secure," he added.
WPR (Pty) Ltd was responsible for taking decisions for professional rugby in the province.
However, since they are now liquidated, the union's executive will take over the interim responsibility of those decisions until such time that "something new is born".
"For the eight weeks [the time it takes until final liquidation is granted] going forward, it will be the top leadership dealing with these issues. Thereafter, it will revert back to normal with all the structures being in place," Wakefield stated.
Group CEO Paul Zacks echoed Wakefield's statements and confirmed that the Stormers' pre-season had already commenced, with Robbie Fleck remaining in his role as head coach.
"The players started their pre-season training today [Monday, November 7] and that process won't be interrupted. On field is business as usual.
"We can reveal that Robbie Fleck is the head coach of the Stormers as he has been appointed for three years. The reason we have not announced it yet was because we had a good look at our rugby structures, the way we are playing, our culture and fitness and conditioning.
"A very similar criteria to SARU's coaching Indaba and we recognised there were certain deficiencies in certain areas.
"Robbie [Fleck] has spent a lot of time with our fitness and conditioning coach, gathering intellectual property, data and information on how to improve our systems and the way we play going forward. He will present the vision and the way we want to play going forward when they are ready.
"There is a massive change in how we are going to conduct ourselves in a professional rugby perspective," Zacks said.
Wakefield concluded that all the province's signings had been completed and that they have the support of the players' organisation, MyPlayers and SARU.
"We were comprehensively briefed this [Monday] morning in a transparent and open manner by Paul about the application," Managing Director of MyPlayers, Eugene Henning, said in a statement.
"We are comfortable with the process at the moment.
"We will now consider the relevant legal submissions and determine what impact the process will have on player interests from where we will then base our course of action.
"We have appointed a legal representative on behalf of the players to oversee the liquidation proceedings and we will be in constant communication with WP Rugby and the players regarding the process going forward," Henning added.
By Tauriq Ebrahim