Watson floored in voting drama

Luke Watson was on Monday morning confirmed as the SA ‘Players player of the year’, but in a day of drama was controversially replaced by Kabamba Floors.

SARU president Oregan Hoskins confirmed his leadership gave the award to Floors amid another day of contradictions and embarrassment, with South African Rugby Players Association chairman Piet Heymans saying Floors had won by eight votes.

Effectively, the leadership of SARU has given the Players Player of the Year award, which in itself is a contradiction. Why can’t the award be shared when the Currie Cup was shared?

Keo.co.za, through written correspondence, received information that Bok coach Jake White and Hoskins had allegedly intervened when Watson’s name was sent through to SuperSport as the winner and that a recount was demanded through the South African Rugby Players Association, who organised the vote.

SARPA chairman Heymans admitted to Keo.co.za’s Jon Cardinelli that Watson had been confirmed as the winner on Monday, but denied any interference from the Bok coach.

Heymans told Cardinelli that SARU representative Jenny Wentzel had mistakingly sent SuperSport Watson’s name as the winner on the Friday. Heymans said Watson was ahead in the voting, but that voting was only closed by Monday 5pm and that Wentzel had made an error in confirming Watson as the winner.

Heymans when further questioned on the coincidence of the information and his account added that Floors and Watson were equal at noon on Monday but that the Free State player won by eight votes at the cut-off time of 17.00.

Heymans, as head of the player’s union, sits on the SARU board of directors.

When asked if the voting figures could be verified through an audit to establish credibility and ensure that no player could vote more than once, Heymans said this information would not be made available to the media or the public.

He added that Flashworks collected the information by way of SMS but that there was no independent audit of the voting.

SARU, however, confirmed through written correspondence that its leadership had made the decision to give the award to Floors on Tuesday morning, despite Heymans telling this website Floors was an outright winner on Monday evening (by eight votes).

Email correspondence to Keo.co.za read: “I (Mr. Hoskins) was phoned on Tuesday and asked to deliver a casting vote for the SA Rugby Players’ Player of the Year Award as the SARPA voting process had delivered a stalemate between Luke Watson and Kabamba Floors.

“I was in PE at the time to attend a meeting and with me was the SARU Deputy Mr. Mike Stofile and CEO Johan Prinsloo. I discussed the matter with them and we all agreed that the prize must be awarded to Kabamba Floors. I cannot speak on behalf of other people (as mentioned in your e-mail),” said Hoskins.

Keo.co.za’s enquiries to players about the voting revealed that players were asked to SMS their player of the year award last week, but were sent reminders on Monday to say they could still vote. No cut off time was given.

Keo.co.za’s original information was that only 200 of the 400 players had voted by Friday evening – and the argument was that this was not representative of all the players. A further request for votes was asked for on Monday – and it is here that Floors supposedly edged ahead.

Vusi Kama, spokesperson of the Bok squad, was contacted at 17.00 for White’s comments. White was in a team meeting and Kama said the coach would respond this evening.

Kama was contacted at 22.05 for White’s response and he said the coach was still in meetings and that there was unlikely to be a response until the morning. Kama confirmed the meeting was in relation to who would be the Bok manager.

Watson, when contacted by Keo.co.za, said the only talking he could do was on the field in 2007. He remained confident his time would come by way of consistent performances.

Watson, who has never made White’s Bok squad, has also been nominated for the Player of the Year award, the Currie Cup player of the year award and the Super 14 player of the year award.

However, it is believed that he has not won anything amid fears of further embarrassment to the national coach, who refuses to acknowledge Watson’s worth as a player.