WPRFU executive in 'toxic' internal war
SPOTLIGHT: Western Province Rugby Football Union officials are presenting a seemingly united front, but it appears nothing could be further from the truth.
According to a WPRFU statement this past week, Ronald Bantom was ‘duly’ elected as the vice-president at a special general meeting this past Monday.
However, the eulogistic statement did not reflect the apparent caustic nature of the meeting in which clubs and delegates raised several pressing issues.
Sources confirmed to @rugby365com that not only did clubs “raise concerns” about the move to the Cape Town Stadium, but also suggested that the entire process (Bantom’s election) may have been “unconstitutional”.
Another issue causing alarm was the forewarning that SA Rugby could place the union/franchise under administration if the boardroom mess is not resolved.
So heated were some of the exchanges, that Deputy President Moneeb Levy, in Monday’s meeting, accused the executive of being toxic and unable to work together.
The flare-up came when delegates enquired about the decision to recall Levy and Peter Jooste as representatives of the union from the board of the company – Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
According to @rugby365com‘s sources, Levy confirmed to the meeting that their recall was because some members of the executive weren’t happy with his view on the push to appoint Junaid Moerat as interim CEO of WPPR.
It has since been revealed that President Zelt Marais’ personal assistant Ruben Machelm has been appointed as the ‘interim’ CEO.
Despite the attempts to paint a picture of ‘unity’ – including a recent statement by Bantom that suggested he respects the “decision-makers” in the WP structures and will never put self-interest above the interest of the union – insiders say the meeting revealed three clear factions.
The President (Zelt Marais), Deputy President (Moneeb Levy) and the newly elected vice-president (Ronald Bantom) all have pockets of support of varying sizes.
The WPRFU, in the wake of the tumultuous meeting, held an emergency executive committee meeting on Saturday.
The ExCo get-together was keen to resolve the deepening chasms between the various factions and prevent SA Rugby from stepping in.
Neither the WPRFU President, Marais, nor the WPPR Chairman, Ebrahim Rasool, responded to requests for comment.
Sources revealed that Marais was advised that the voting (for the vacant position of vice-president) could not take place – a position purportedly supported by an attorney in the meeting.
The clubs are apparently also trying to walk back an earlier decision to move to the CT Stadium – with suggestions that the deal has still not been signed off, even though the Stormers hosted the Cheetahs at the Greenpoint-based venue on February 27 in their first match at their new ‘home ground’.
However, given the financial implications, the executive was not keen on walking away from yet another deal in the wake of the fall-out from their 2020 decisions – when they turned their backs on companies like Remgro and Investec, the American consortium MVM, a legal firm and are also trying to divorce from their latest ‘partner’, Flyt.
Clubs would like the franchise to return to Newlands, even though there is the dark cloud of Flyt’s threatening legal action hanging over such a move.
There are concerns about the rent to be paid at the CT Stadium and the cost of nearly 200 new suits that were built at the Greenpoint venue. WPRFU is responsible for 30 percent of the building costs for the suits.
The lack of transparent communication and financial details are other concerns for the clubs.
Given the impact of COVID on the finances of the union (WPRFU) and company (WPPR) – along with the boardroom contretemps – it is not clear how long before they will be so deep into the red that SA Rugby steps in.
Also worth reading
WPRFU: Is there a ‘third force’ at play?
WPPR CEO job specs a real revelation
Has Province saddled the wrong horse?
Mandela Bay Rugby: Another failed venture?
‘Boardroom war’ at Newlands
Zelt Marais forced to backtrack
Zelt Marais in his own words
Masotti explains his exit
Flyt bomb drops on Newlands saga