WPPR board needs more 'women and black people'
WATCH as the new Chairman of the board of Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd, Ebrahim Rasool, fronts up to the media for the first time since his appointment last month.
In a marathon media session in which Rasool – along with Western Province Rugby Football Union President Zelt Marais – touched on various subjects, he dismissed the notion that the recent boardroom drama is an indication of a union in decline.
“We feel absolutely confident that Western Province’s greatest years may be ahead of it,” Rasool told the media – despite the departure of five members of the board of the professional arm, WPPR, since June.
“We think we have the wherewithal to turn the post-COVID-19 period into one of leadership for rugby in the Western Cape,” he added.
Rasool confirmed the departure of the two sponsorship representatives – Hennie Heymans (DHL) and Suzanne Stevens (BrightRock) – as directors of the board of the professional arm of WPRFU.
Rasool thanked the sponsors for sticking with them through these trying times, dismissing the notion that the departure of their representatives mean the sponsors are also heading for the exit door.
He added that they are “banking” on continuing the “fruitful” relationship with their sponsors.
In fact, Rasool sees the departures as an opportunity to “refresh” the board.
“To quote Albert Einstein: ‘In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity’.
“While we can’t change the decisions of the two people who resigned, our task is to look for the opportunity within that.
“We have the opportunity to regularise the board, to ensure we bring in particular skills. Given the difficult times we live in, we need a board member who could ensure we have financial and legal depth in the functioning of the board.
“We need people who understand what sport, rugby and WP will look like in a post-COVID period.”
He also suggested that it allows them to meet the union’s transformation targets.
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“Secondly, it helps to get the demographics of the board a lot more representative,” Rasool said.
“I think we need women and we need more black people.
“If that coincides with the skills we require, that would be a happy marriage. We need to regularise the relationship between ourselves and our sponsors.”
He said it is “strange” that sponsors have directors on the board of a rugby company.
“We have an opportunity to have the union [and] the board on the one side and sponsor relationship on the other side.
“I feel we are going to find [an] opportunity out of the difficult situation [created] by the resignation of Hennie Heymans and Suzanne Stevens. They will be missed, but they will be replaced.”
He said they are working at putting the union on a solid financial sound footing with ‘multiple options’ on the table.
“We have conveyed that to the players,” he said, adding that they will be negotiating contracts with the players over the next two months.
The departure Heymans and Stevens are the fourth and fifth members of the board of the professional arm, WPPR, to have departed under a cloud since June.
The boardroom battles started much earlier, but really escalated in June – when Kevin Kiewitz walked away from the union in protest over their handling of negotiations with Investec.
That followed when two independent directors of the board, Johan van der Merwe and Andre van der Veen, were told in August their services were no longer required. Their terms of office came to an end and at the board AGM it was decided not to extend their terms.
Van der Merwe was replaced as Chairman of the board of WPPR (Pty) Ltd by Rasool.
In September Raymond van Niekerk handed in his resignation, ostensibly because he has had enough of the boardroom politics. He indicated that the unwillingness of WPRFU too offer Van der Merwe and Van der Veen new terms was key to the decision.
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