SARU chaos puts Mzansi Challenge on the brink of 'extinction'
EXCLUSIVE: Chaotic ineptitude at the South African Rugby Union headquarters is at the heart of the likelihood that the Mzansi Challenge could fail to lift off at all.
SARU confirmed on Saturday that the Spanish outfit Diables has withdrawn from the competition.
A curt statement by SARU said Diables withdrew due to ‘logistical challenges’.
This follows after SARU controversially axed the Israeli team Tel Aviv Heat from the event – scheduled to start at the end of March – unleashing a storm of criticism and rage against the organisation.
It also leaves just the Simbas (Kenya), Welwitschias (Namibia), and Goshawks (Zimbabwe) as ‘international entrants’ – to compete against six South African teams, the Leopards, Falcons, Boland Cavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, and South Western Districts Eagles.
The South African teams only found out through the SARU advisory at the weekend that the Spanish team had pulled out.
However, it is the second line in the statement this weekend that really reveals the disorganization and mess the build-up to the tournament is in.
Just a fortnight before the opening round, March 24, fixtures are still ‘provisional‘ and are also ‘subject to change’.
And the media release was sent out on a Currie Cup letterhead – even though the two events have no tangible link.
Diables are “disappointed” that they have to exit this year and hope to return in future.
However, the timing makes it tough to fulfil obligations.
@rugby365com understand a “lack of communication” by SARU has been the biggest challenge.
This is a fact confirmed by Takunda Chifokoyo, the Zimbabwe Goshawks team manager.
“We want to remain part of the competition,” Chifokoyo said, adding that there are definitely some serious challenges – suggesting they may reconsider their position.
“We can do with better and more transparent communication,” he told @rugby365com.
He said the biggest challenge is the lack of a ‘roadmap’.
“We want to be compliant and come back to communication.
“Some feedback would alleviate some of the stresses.”
The Zimbabwean team manager said basic aspects such as venues, when they are playing and kick-off times all add to their frustration.
“I don’t know if SARU’s resources are stretched or what the problems are,” he said, adding: “I can’t even go to my union, because they are not the organisers.
“We will honour that process, if only we knew what they [SARU] want.”
@rugby365com was also told by officials from participation teams that no broadcasting or streaming agreement of the tournament is in place.
This makes it near impossible for participating teams, still considered small unions that struggle to get sponsorship, to secure commercial revenue.
Local teams plan to take some of their home games to their communities.
However, with limited time remaining, these venues have not been confirmed.
All expenses for accommodation and travelling to the outskirts will all be for the visiting teams’ accounts – which is why other ‘international’ participants are also beginning to have second thoughts.
It is also common knowledge that some of the local teams have no home grounds and have indicated that they are in the hands of the local municipalities to secure fields for some matches.
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