Striking Kings: Will SARU step in again?
An ongoing stand-off between EP Rugby and the players, over the non-payment of salaries, has put in jeopardy the Currie Cup match between the Kings and Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The latest controversy follows a similar dispute in July, when New Zealander Carlos Spencer – then a member of the coaching panel – walked away from the team over non-payment of salaries.
The players were eventually paid at the end of July, with some reports claiming that it was the result of a SARU intervention.
EPRU President Cheeky Watson responded with a terse "no comment", when approached by rugby365 over the ongoing financial crisis at the Port Elizabeth-based union.
The South African Rugby Players Association confirmed they will meet with the players on Thursday, as the latest stand-off drags into a third day.
"We will be advising them [the players] of their legal rights," SARPA and MyPlayers media manager Nyaniso Sam told rugby365.
"The decisions taken by the players, going forward, will be based on that [meeting]," he added.
While all parties were reluctant to say too much, given the sensitive nature of the situation, it is believed that the players had a meeting at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday – after discovering they were not paid for August – and decided to stop training till the financial issues are resolved.
It has become a classic case of "no pay, no play" and Thursday's meeting could be the proverbial watershed for the union.
The Kings boss, Watson, and the union CEO Charl Crouse have been locked in intense discussions for the past two days.
The fact that the much-publicised record sponsorship has not materialised has added fuel to the fire.
The Kings have endured a torrid start to the Currie Cup campaign‚ losing all four of their matches – including coughing up more than 50 points against the Lions in Port Elizabeth in Round One.
While the EPRU has been beset by cash problems for some time, Watson insisted last week the "massive" sponsorship is a fait accompli.
He said the cash-flow issues that resulted in the non-payment of salaries would be resolved once the sponsorship was finalised.
By Jan de Koning