Who is Hoskins?

Oregan Hoskins, the man opposing Brian van Rooyen for the Saru presidency, launched his campaign through the media this week.

In doing so, Hoskins has shown himself to be both articulate and ambitious. He’s talked the talk, but whether he walks the decidedly more tricky walk in rugby’s underworld remains to be seen.

Public perception is one thing, reality another. In the murky world of rugby politics, it is the votes of the 14 unions that matter. Media strategy serves a purpose, but ultimately the streetfight for votes is where the battle for the Saru presidency will be decided.

Brian van Rooyen has not engaged the media, save for an exclusive interview on keo.co.za. Instead he has visited seven unions in the last two weeks. Hoskins’ campaign is well-packaged, Van Rooyen’s dogmatically targetted at the voters.

Like many administrators, Hoskins found his way into rugby administration through the courts. A qualified advocate, Hoskins’ appointment as president of the Sharks was groundbreaking. He is the first black president of the Durban union

His progression to national office was first mooted back in September, when Mike Stofile and Andre Markgraaff attempted a coup against Van Rooyen. Both came out in support of Hoskins as Van Rooyen’s replacement.

SASCOC’s bumbling CEO Moss Mashishi appointed him head of an interim committee to govern rugby’s affairs when the sports administrative watchdog attempted to wrest power from Van Rooyen that same month, unsuccesfully.

Hoskins legitimacy as a contender has never been questioned, but the election of Saru presidents seldom focus on legitimacy. What will be decisive is whether he is willing to engage in the streetfight, whether he convinces those in the possession of votes that their best interests are better served by his elevation than Van Rooyen’s continued rule.

Hoskins has been a council member of the Sharks for the past 10 years. He became vice-president in 1999, and president in 2003.