Brian van Rooyen has withdrawn from a public debate with SA Rugby Union presidential candidate Oregan Hoskins because the forum lacked structure and was not designed to accommodate a debate.
Media reports on Thursday claimed Van Rooyen had done a runner and that he did not want to front the rugby media. The SA Rugby Union president dismissed this as typical pre-election media campaigning.
“The media reports come from Durban. Oregan is president of the Kwazulu-Natal Rugby Union. You don’t have to be a mathematician to calculate that sum,” Van Rooyen told Keo.co.za. “I have never had a problem addressing the media and certainly have always fronted for press conferenes with the media in the last two years.”
The media reports alleged that Van Rooyen did not want questions from the media at a debate.
His response: “The original approach was for a debate and I had no problem with it, provided it would be structured as a debate. In a debate I open with my argument (around 3 minutes), Oregan then presents his (around 3 minutes), he then gets to put questions to me and I get to put questions to him and the media questions should be formulated around SA Rugby and what each of us believes he can offer SA Rugby. In a debate the two individuals get asked the same questions.
“This structure could not be accommodated and that was my resistance. The organisers were effectively wanting a press conference and I was not prepared to have one prior to the election. I will make myself available for a press conference post the election.”
Van Rooyen also said he questioned the fact that a member of the Kwazulu Natal Rugby Union also served as a board member of Kagiso, who had arranged the debate.
“I was assured that management would not interfere with the editorial process and I was comfortable with that response, but again there was not enough clarity about the structure of the debate.
Hoskins, like Van Rooyen two years ago, has got his campaign message across by way of media interviews and a media roadshows that started at Sun City a few weeks ago.
Van Rooyen has opted to go directly to the unions and address the respective executives.
“We have taken a different approach and it has a lot to do with one being the man in the hot seat and the other being the candidate to the hot seat,” joked Van Rooyen. “I am comfortable with my approach to the campaign, as I am sure Regan is with his. You guys don’t get to vote, the people I have addressed at my various presentations do.”
Van Rooyen also rejected the insinuation that he was afraid to speak to the country’s rugby writers.
“Why? I’ve sat at press conferences for two years and I’ve always found them to be fair in the questioning. Why would it be an issue now. What I was clear about with the organisers was that any debate had to centre around the presidency and what either of us (Regan and myself) could do for the game. I was not interested in a session where it became a Brian van Rooyen question and answer.”