EP Rugby faces R12-million claim

EP Rugby faces further liquidation action after failing to adhere to an arbitration award to pay outstanding salaries to aggrieved players by the end of January. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

The South African Rugby Players' Association brought a liquidation application against EP on behalf of a group of players last Thursday, citing ‘preferential treatment of creditors’.

This week lawyer Craig Jessop, who is representing another group of 18 players, confirmed they'd be following suit after EP Rugby failed to meet a 31 January deadline to pay salary arrears that date as far back as last September.

'EP Rugby was obligated by way of arbitration award to pay to my clients the amount of R5-million for and in respect of arrear salaries by 31 January 2016,’ Jessop stated.

‘EP Rugby failed to make that payment, and in terms of the award, the damages payments due to my clients have now been accelerated and as such the amount now due and payable to my clients in terms of the arbitration award is a total of R12-million.’

Jessop said his clients were at the ‘end of their tether’ and had elected to intervene as a co-applicant in the liquidation proceedings, which are set to be heard in the Port Elizabeth High Court on 10 March.

‘EP Rugby opposed the application for liquidation launched by Sarpa and all parties have been given the opportunity to exchange papers in relation to the liquidation application,’ Jessop commented. ‘Should EP Rugby be liquidated by way of order of the court, then those processes will take care of themselves.’

Jessop added that his clients ‘reserve the right to interrogate the financial affairs of EP Rugby and the rights to Super Rugby’.

It’s believed that the new Southern Kings Super Rugby entity will be held jointly liable in the claim related to the financial crisis that has beset EP Rugby and resulted in players going unpaid for months on end.

Last Saturday, EPRU Cheeky Watson avoided a vote of no confidence at the union's delayed AGM, but will once again be held accountable at a special meeting, set for 28 February, when he will be expected to present a more detailed and complete report on EP Rugby's financial affairs.

Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis