Spears enquiry gets green light

Saru will send a fact-finding mission to the Spears to ascertain their state of readiness to participate in next year’s Vodacom Super 14.

The board of SA Rugby on Wednesday rubberstamped a recommendation made by the presidents council that the Spears’ partipation in the competition be revisited. SA Rugby’s decision effectively amounts to buying time for a politically explosive and legally complex issue.

Saru president Regan Hoskins will lead a delegation that also includes Saru vice-president Koos Basson, chief executive Johan Prinsloo, deputy chief executive Mveleli Ncula and financial director Basil Haddad.

“The visit marks the beginning of an investigation into the franchise, regarded as a critical step in determining the future of the Southern Spears,” SA Rugby said in a statement.

According to SA Rugby, the enquiry will include:

- an evaluation of the commercial impact of the ultimate decision taken on the affected franchises in the event of relegation;

- consideration of the bid documents from the Spears and other South African franchises;

- an assessment of implications of the decision on the Sanzar/Newscorp contract obligation to play the best possible sides from each of the Sanzar affiliates;

- a consideration of the implications of a decision for all stakeholders in the Spears region.

“The process will require a lot of research and time,” said Hoskins. “The ultimate decision is one we will not take lightly or in a haphazard function. The terms of reference are designed to give us a total picture that will tell us whether they are ready for 2007 or not.”