End in sight for Spears saga

Oregan Hoskins conceded that the ruling of the Appeal Court in November would end the ongoing battle with the Southern Spears.

An August High Court judgment found that South African Rugby Union should honour their agreement that the Southern Cape franchise would play Vodacom Super 14 rugby for the next two years. But the governing body subsequently lodged an appeal, which will be heard in Bloemfontein on November 23.

With the next installment of the Vodacom Super 14 only three months away, their is still no clarity on whether South Africa’s fifth representative will be the Spears or the Lions.

The Saru president, in an interview with Dale Granger of the Cape Argus, also vehemently denied suggestions that SA Rugby had employed tactics to stall elections for the Eastern Province Rugby Union in an attempt to prevent Spears chief executive Tony McKeever from becoming president of the union.

Hoskin’s though was adamant that McKeever winning a seat on the Presidents’ Counsel (by virtue of being elected EPRU president) would be highly undesirable.

“Certainly not. I would not think Saru would want him (McKeever) on the Presidents’ Council after what he has put us through as an Saru nation. That is the last thing we would want,” said Hoskins.

McKeever’s one-man mission to force Saru to honour their agreement was recently bolstered by the support of 65 of the 102 clubs in the Eastern Province, who jointly condemned Saru for attempts to buy a majority shareholding in the union and meddling in their internal affairs, an act they suggested was a violation of the EP, Saru and IRB constitution.

Hoskins however reject this notion completely. “In the broader sense Saru has an obligation in terms of aims and objectives to ensure that the game is played throughout the country in a spirit that is acceptable also in terms of the country’s constitution.”

“A PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ report has already highlighted issues of corruption in Eastern Province rugby. There are also claims that competitions have been organised along racial lines, which is in breach of the country’s constitution,” he said.

He continued that in recent meeting between a Saru delegation and some clubs in Port Elizabeth “feelings and tensions ran so high that threats were made and one got the impression people wanted to get violent”, before reiterating their commitment to honour the Appeal Court decision.

“The decision on November 23 will be decisive for SA rugby. One way or another we will have to abide by it and accept it if they decide the Spears should play.”