WPRFU & Stade: Another McKeever misfire
INVESTIGATION: The well-documented colloquies between Stade Français Paris and the Western Province Rugby Football Union is off the table.
The reported collaboration has been at the centre of a substantial portion of the boardroom drama at Newlands – including the suspension of prominent WPRFU executive member Junaid Moerat.
Thomas Lombard, the Directeur Général of the French giants, confirmed to @rugby365com that conversations have ceased, when asked about the involvement of discredited former Southern Spears CEO Tony McKeever – who has been punting the ‘groundbreaking strategic alliance’ as his brainchild.
“We have stopped all discussions,” Lombard told this website in a written reply to questions about McKeever’s claims.
“The conditions were not beneficial to us,” he added.
The revelation of the collapse of the confabulations follows recent claims by McKeever that the negotiations are ‘progressing’.
McKeever, the ‘strategic advisor’ in the negotiations between WPRFU and Stade Français, has a history of failed ventures in the game.
He was the CEO of the Southern Spears, which folded before playing an official game – following his well-documented stand-off with SA Rugby in court. At one stage he was also listed as both CEO and a Director of ‘Super 20 Rugby World Series’ – a venture that has failed to produce a single match or register a single player after it was launched in 2006.
Then there is his role in introducing PRO Rugby (United States) owner Douglas Schoninger to SARU President Mark Alexander, with the view that PRO Rugby would invest in the Eastern Province and Southern Kings teams. However, other than a couple of informal meetings between Schoninger and Alexander in London, nothing came of this ‘proposal’ either. Schoninger’s PRO Rugby competition in the United States also lasted only one season.
Most recently McKeever was linked to the planned formation of an organisation called Mandela Bay Rugby. Despite placing advertisements for jobs back in 2017, Mandela Bay Rugby never progressed past building a website with no information or details – with only a link to ‘register’ as a player or a fan.
Given that McKeever – in a recent exchange with @rugby365com readers – confirmed the existence of a ‘draft media release’, it raises many questions about his involvement in the WPRFU structures.
These questions were posed to both WPRFU President Zelt Marais and McKeever, in writing.
Neither took up the option to respond formally to this website’s questions – despite McKeever’s rather public jeremiads on @rugby365com‘s readers’ forum.
These are the questions posed to both Marais and McKeever:
1. Does he have the mandate to act on behalf of WPRFU? If so, who gave him that mandate?
2. Does he have an official/formal position and/or title at WPRFU? (It is asked, because he claimed to act on behalf of WPRFU)
3. Was the Board or Executive Committee aware of McKeever’s intricate involvement in the Stade Français deal?
4. Or did McKeever, in his personal capacity, act of his own volition and without a proper mandate?
5. Or was he given ‘permission’ by specific board member(s) to open negotiations?
We have found a copy of McKeever’s draft media release, which seems to be circulating well beyond just the Cape Town media.
McKeever also stated, publicly, that the Chairman of Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd Ebrahim Rasool and the WPRFU President (Marais) were fully aware of his talks with Stade Français.
In fact, both had statements that were included in his draft media release – originally scheduled to be issued on January 22.
The Stade Français boss, Lombard, is also quoted in McKeever’s media release.
Given Lombard’s declaration that the discussions have ceased, it brings us back to a very significant issue – the suspension of Moerat.
In a recent letter, distributed to clubs and WPRFU stakeholders, Moerat launched a scathing attack on Marais and McKeever.
Moerat, one of the most prominent members of the WPRFU executive, was suspended back in February – on the day of his appointment as Interim Chief Executive of the company, WPPR.
That position has since been handed to Ruben Machelm, a personal assistant and close confidant of the President, Marais.
Moerat, in his letter to the ‘internal stakeholders’ of the WPRFU, opened up about the bizarre and contentious events this year.
Moerat’s hearing has since been postponed, twice, without any explanation from Marais – the complainant in the case.
He stands accused of leaking information about the now-stalled talks between WPRFU and the French giants, Stade Français, to the media.
However, McKeever’s draft media release appears to be the source of the ‘leak’ in the Sunday newspaper Rapport article that kicked off the entire Moerat saga.
The newspaper, as is general practice in the media and to their credit, has not revealed its source.
However, given that McKeever has distributed the release to WPPR and WPRFU members, the original ‘leak’ is likely to be closer to home than what Marais and McKeever would like the public to believe.
The Rapport article is an almost verbatim translation of McKeever’s draft release.
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