SARU ultimatum has WPRFU scrambling
NEWS: There was a flutter of excitement in Bloemfontein and a rush of anxiety in Cape Town this week, as the South African Rugby Union gave the Western Province Rugby Football Union an ultimatum to ‘get their house in order’.
@rugby365com can reveal that SARU President Mark Alexander made a direct call to WPRFU boss Zelt Marais over the protracted financial controversies and infighting at the Cape Town union.
Alexander, in no uncertain terms, warned Marais that his franchise will be replaced by the Cheetahs in the United Rugby Championship if the firestorms are not put out.
Given that the URC is set to get underway a fortnight from now, it caused a major stir in both Bloemfontein and Cape Town.
It is not clear what the deadline is for when Marais to deliver on the verbal guarantees he gave Alexander, but the threat of SARU escalating the matter to the level of excluding the Stormers from international competitions will see a number of ’emergency meetings’ in the days to come.
Alexander’s call followed the fractious and often chaotic last few weeks in the WPRFU, in which the union President, Marais, came under fire for acting in direct conflict to the instructions of a WPRFU/SA Rugby advisory committee on which he serves.
Marais caused a stir when he put forward Anicra (Pty) Ltd as a legitimate alternative option to the SARU-preferred Staytus to solve the union’s ongoing financial crisis.
As @rugby365com reported, SARU has since withdrawn from and ended the existence of the WPRFU/SARU Advisory Committee.
The six-man WPRFU/SA Rugby advisory committee consisted of Marais, Patrick Kuhn (chairman), Samuel Ngumeni, Abubakar Saban, Ebrahim Rasool (Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd) and Colin Moses.
SARU Chief Executive Officer Jurie Roux made it clear the national body will not hesitate to invoke clause 28 of the constitution.
This was followed by Alexander’s call and the ultimatum to Marais to put his union’s house in order.
* That was not the only significant development involving the Cheetahs this week, as they seek to find a way into an international competition for their players.
* (Article continues below …)
Welcome Ruan Pienaar & Tian Meyer🦈🖤
🗣️: “As part of a cooperation agreement with the Toyota Cheetahs, we are delighted to announce that Ruan Pienaar and Tian Meyer will play a few matches for the Cell C Sharks in the upcoming URC tournament.”
— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) September 8, 2021
The Cheetahs, who featured in the Pro14 for two years after being kicked out of Super Rugby, also lost their place in Europe when the SA Rugby decided to quit Super Rugby and move to the Northern Hemisphere.
The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers were given the four South African slots in the URC.
However, some of the Cheetahs’ players will feature in the URC as part of a new deal.
It was revealed on Wednesday that the Cheetahs and Sharks have signed a cooperation agreement to exchange players and to support each other on a broader front.
“This step benefits both teams in terms of their game and financially and that the move is also in the broader interests of South African rugby,” a joint statement by the two franchises said.
“The Cheetahs and Sharks will make some of their players available to each other on request and when competitions do not overlap.
“The Sharks will also provide players to the Cheetahs.
“Some of them could even be made available for the 2022 Currie Cup competition.”
In one of the first exchanges Cheetah scrumhalf and captain Ruan Pienaar, along with utility back Tian Meyer (also a regular at No.9) will be joining the Sharks on short-term deals.
Meyer will be available for the URC outbound tour and will then return to the Cheetahs.
With Springbok selection and injuries ruling out three of the Sharks scrumhalves, Pienaar will be involved for a longer period in the competition and his invaluable experience and knowledge of the Irish playing conditions will be hugely beneficial and a great boost to the Sharks prospects in Europe.
Pienaar says he is looking forward to a final tour of Ireland, but Bloemfontein and the Cheetahs will remain his home.
This is where he wants to wind up his career over the next two seasons.
In return, the Sharks will make some of their players available on loan to the Cheetahs for international and Currie Cup games that the Cheetahs are preparing for.
The cooperation agreement will be broader than just the exchange of players.
“Both teams will benefit financially,” the statement said.
“As they will not always be playing in the same competitions, they will be able to support each other in times of need and pressure.”
For the Cheetahs this agreement is not something new.
The Cheetahs have had such agreements with the neighbouring Griffons and Griquas, as well as Verblitz in Japan.
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— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) September 8, 2021