Saru states their case

Read SA Rugby’s official statement regarding the Spears here.

SA Rugby Board of Directors has decided to halt the participation of the Southern Spears in the Vodacom Super 14 next year, and instead put measures in place to help the franchise and the region reach acceptable levels of readiness.

At a media conference held in Cape Town today, Board members said they were aware that the decision might not go down well with some members of the affected communities, but thorough investigation showed it was a sensible one to take.

“We realise that it is a difficult and sensitive issue,” said Board chairman Mpumelelo Tshume. “The decision of the Board will be an unpopular one in some sectors of the community, but we believe halting the Spears’ participation in the Vodacom Super 14 for now is the right thing to do. Posterity will judge us harshly if we consider quick fixes.”

The decision, originally scheduled to be announced on Friday, was made public today because the Board managed to secure an earlier consultation with the Provincial Presidents in Cape Town.

Tshume said the Board was satisfied that it had applied its mind properly to the facts around the Spears issue, before coming to the conclusion that the franchise was not ready for Vodacom Super 14 engagements.

“The Board of SA Rugby has employed a thorough process in its quest to find a sustainable solution to the challenges facing rugby in the Eastern and Southern Cape, generally, and the Southern Spears, in particular.”

The Board examined various issues to help it reach a decision on the matter. Part of the examination included properly taking into account the following:

The report submitted by the fact-finding mission led by SA Rugby Union President, Oregan Hoskins – into the viability of the franchise.
The report from the meetings that SA Rugby Board member Dr Ali Bacher submitted on the impact relegation would have on any of the five existing Vodacom Super 14 franchises.
A presentation by the CEO of Southern Spears, Tony McKeever, to the Board of SA Rugby.
The player capacity of all the South African franchises, nd compared with that of the Southern Spears
Analysis of the sentiments expressed by rugby supporters.
Input from the Chairman of the Southern Spears Board of Directors, Aldy Meyer;
A written submission from the Port Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, and;
Other relevant information

Tshume said SA Rugby was committed to the cause of developing the game in the Eastern Cape region.

This will be done through taking the following measures in that region:

Implementation of sound corporate governance procedures.
Putting in place sound administration and workable structures.
Helping the region attain financial sustainability and;
Helping develop player capacity in the region.

Tshume noted that at least two of the three Provinces in the region are in serious financial difficulties. He said the rugby authorities were taking into cognisance the provisions of the Sanzar agreement.

“We need to take positive intervention to ensure sustainability in all areas of work in those Provinces. Part of the remedy to be implemented immediately is the production of a detailed plan to assist the Board of SA Rugby intervene in the three Provinces. Senior management of SA Rugby has been mandated to pool resources, including from outside of rugby, to help draw a blueprint that would point to the sustainability of rugby in those areas.”

One of the pending positive interventions is the establishment of a rugby academy in the Eastern Cape, a project to be undertaken in partnership with television channel Superport.

“The high performance centre should help take the level of the game in the Eastern Cape to impressive levels.”