Among SA Rugby Union president Brian van Rooyen’s crimes — as listed on the official charge sheet — is that he paid the Springboks a R1million bonus without getting the provincial presidential police’s blessing.
After months of speculation as to what Van Rooyen has or has not done, the South African Sunday Times listed the 11 charges Van Rooyen will face. The most bizarre is that he is in the dock for giving the Springboks a bonus to play a test match that was not on the original schedule in 2004.
Van Rooyen admitted to the Sunday Times that he paid the bonus without following the protocol because the players had deserved the reward.
“Hell, yes, I’d probably do it again,” he said off the payment to the players. SA Rugby Union was paid R5 million to play Wales in Cardiff in 2004, a match that was not on the schedule and Van Rooyen said the players deserved to get financial gain from the game.
Among the other charges are that he publicly insulted Andre Markgraaff and worked, in tandem with Bok coach Jake White, to get rid of Markgraaff. The man should be given a gold bar if that is true, not a night behind bars.
Rian Oberholzer’s appointment as a Rugby World Cup consultant is another of the charges, with the accusation being Van Rooyen agreed to a fee of R100 000 a month.
Van Rooyen told the Sunday Times that Oberholzer was appointed by the BIDCO company, of which he was one of six directors.
“I checked and he was paid R120 000 in total, an amount approved by the RWC 2011 Bid Company.” Van Rooyen dismissed claims he was paid money by the BIDCO and that he had operated secretly with the BIDCO.
“Mthobi Tyamzashe was the chairman. Francois Pienaar was the CEO. He spoke to the President’s Council and kept them informed.”
Van Rooyen confirmed to the Sunday Times that he had received the charge sheet on the February 3 and that there was very little to answer to.
“Yes, I made mistakes and did not follow protocol in certain negotiations. But as I have said all along I never acted in a way that was detrimental to SA Rugby Union. My actions caused no financial burden to SARU.” He told Keo.co.za. “I look forward to the investigation. I have said so all along, because it needs to happen so that I can clear my name. But as you can see from the charge sheet, there isn’t much there.”
Van Rooyen said that while SARU had initially agreed to him renting office space from his own LABAT company for SARU use, this had never happened and that Labat had never been paid any money from SARU. He also said SARU had never paid any LABAT staff member money and there was no financial record to support the claim payments were made to his staff.
The Oberholzer decision, to use him on the World Cup BIDCO, was not his decision alone, he said, while all allegations of him negotiating on Celtic League competitions were done in the best interests of SA Rugby.
“I had a mandate, but not the authority to negotiate. I could negotiate only subject to finalisation by the board. I did it wrong in terms of protocol. I have never denied it.”
Van Rooyen also said he stood by his earlier comments that he did not try and secure a Rover for personal use, but that Cheetahs President Harold Verster, who has links to Rover, had originally wanted to organise a sponsored Rover.
“Harold Verster explained it to the board many months ago and answered all questions relating to the reports. It was dealt with.”
Van Rooyen said it was laughable that he had conspired to get rid of Markgraaff. There had been issues between White and Markgraaff and he, as president, had backed the Bok coach.
“There are a lot of personality clashes in rugby and disagreement on a lot of issues. But it is not a crime to challenge someone on an issue or to disagree with them. Andre and I disagreed on issues. He took it personally.”
Van Rooyen, who needs 23 votes to retain the presidency, was typically bullish about seeing off the challenge of Regan Hoskins, who in turn, was equally confident of winning the election.
Hoskins definitely has the media’s support, just as Van Rooyen had it two years ago, but as Van Rooyen keeps on reminding the media, they don’t vote and his fate will be determined by the same people who put him in power.
“We are a democracy. If they believe I am the right person they will give me another two years. If they don’t they will vote me out.”
Hoskins, in an interview with the Sunday Times, said he was concerned about the financial state of SA Rugby and that he wanted greater transparency in how things were done at SARU. Hoskins made it clear that if he came to power, the decision to give the Spears two seasons of Super 14 rugby would be revisited. Van Rooyen said it would be immoral to change the decision.
The Hoskins camp tells you he has 27 of the 44 votes. The Van Rooyen camp says their man needs just 23 and he’s got them.