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VIDEO: Straeuli takes subtle dig at Zelt's failures

The Lions Rugby Company may be in a battle to retain their senior players, but self-control has helped them avoid the financial and administrative nightmares bedevilling the Western Province Rugby Football Union.


The Lions, on an unprecedented 10-match losing streak in the Currie Cup and outside the top 10 on the United Rugby Championship table, believe they are winning in the boardroom.

Lions Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rudolf Straeuli revealed that they are not at risk of facing the same financial ruin that has resulted in the WPRFU being placed under administration by the South African Rugby Union.

In October last year SARU placed a near-bankrupt WPRFU under administration and suspended the entire executive – including polemical President Zelt Marais – because it failed to conduct its ‘business affairs in such a way that, at all times, they are in a sound financial position, comply with the laws of the Republic and adhere to the requirements of good governance.

That came as a result of the dramatic decline in the financial state of the union since Marais took over in 2018 – when the WPRFU had a debt of ZAR40-million and all but the Newlands stadium unencumbered. By the time WPRFU was placed under administration that debt, during the three-year reign of Marais, had escalated to an alarming ZAR200-million and all the properties are now bonded to the Flyt/Dreamworld group.

The reference to this nightmare scenario at Newlands came during an interview with Straeuli, when @rugby365com questioned him about the imminent departure of key senior players like Burger Odendaal, Vincent Tshituka and Carlu Sadie.

The Lions CEO said that at the conclusion of the Currie Cup and URC seasons they will have a ‘wash-up’ to assess their contracting and coaching systems.


Despite the unprecedented 10-match losing streak in the Currie Cup, Straeuli said he felt Mziwakhe Nkosi has done a “sterling” job developing the youngsters in South Africa’s premier domestic competition.

He added that the ‘contracting model’ in South Africa is changing.

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He admitted to the Lions being ‘underdone’ in terms of player numbers, but put it down to “budgets and COVID”.

Straeuli touched on the numbers cap (50 senior contracted players) and monitory cap (ZAR62-million).


He admitted they have not reached their salary cap – total annual spent – because of the financial constraints placed on franchises’ income streams by COVID restrictions.

“We’ve had no spectators through the games and we have [also] not had the same commercial [income] since the years prior to [the] COVID [pandemic,” he told @rugby365com.

The Lions CEO confirmed that a South African Rugby Union ‘task team’ is monitoring the 50 player cap.

He also took a subtle dig at the financial mess Marais left the WPRFU in.

“We would like everybody to adhere to the same regulations that we are adhering to,” Straeuli said, adding: “We have contributed to saving the industry by not going into liquidation or administration.

“From the Lions Company and board’s side, we will not do anything that will put the business at risk.”


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