'Loyalty' at the heart of WPRFU contract solution
SPOTLIGHT ON NEWLANDS: Despite the obvious financial predicaments, a combination of some skilful give-and-take haggling and loyalty appears to have solved the Western Province Rugby Football Union’s contractual issues.
On the eve of the contract window for 2019 – Monday, July 1 – it has been revealed that WP and the Stormers may have come up with a solution that will see them retain most of their key Springboks.
Recent reports suggested that verbal promises made to in-demand Springboks – like Siyamthanda Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Wilco Louw, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe – have not yet resulted in written contracts.
It was believed that agents were scrambling to get ‘alternative offers’ before the contract hunting season formally opens.
Only two Boks, Eben Etzebeth (to Toulon in France) and Damian de Allende (Wild Knights in Japan), are confirmed departures from Newlands.
This came at a time when ‘financial constraints’ were hampering the operations of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd (the professional arm).
WP Rugby is facing a loss of ZAR30-million, according to some reports.
Weekend reports even suggested that new Stormers coach John Dobson had threatened to resign if management did not resolve the ongoing contractual delays.
However, it has emerged that some intense ‘horse-trading’ has resulted in a solution.
Dobson, who was at the heart of the negotiations in recent weeks, said not all the rumours that appeared in the media were accurate.
“I never threatened to resign,” Dobson told @rugby365com
Dobson added that they came up with a “good compromise” in the face of the new SA Rugby contracting model and the financial challenges that every franchise in the country faces.
“There will always be an element of compromise and we have done well to assemble the squad we are assembling for the future of Western Province.”
The players who accept the offers, put on the table, will be confirmed only in the coming days.
Obviously, there is a chance that some could accept those ‘alternative’ offers.
However, loyalty is what would ultimately swing over the players at the end of one of the most tumultuous periods at Newlands.
It is also believed that sponsorship interest is on the increase, despite the administrative challenges faced by the union.
Cynics scoffed at recent @rugby365com report when WPRFU President Zelt Marais said they are making progress towards solving the contractual stalemate that existed.
However, it appears that report was a lot closer to the mark than weekend reports of ‘resignation threats’ and players sending lawyers letters to the union.
By Jan de Koning
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