‘EP Rugby must be rebuilt’

New EP Rugby president André Rademan says the union will need to be fundamentally rebuilt from scratch. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Rademan was convincingly voted in on Saturday as the president to succeed the embattled Cheeky Watson, who finally stepped down from his post at the end of February, with the beleaguered union having fallen into financial turmoil.

It’s been a whirlwind few days for Rademan since the election, who has quickly been confronted by the challenges that EP Rugby faces, while on Tuesday he attended meetings with SA Rugby as the criteria was set to determine the four teams to remain in Super Rugby.

In the midst of this, Rademan was a victim of violent crime on Monday when he was accosted at gunpoint. His vehicle was stolen, before being recovered by police later in the day.

When SARugbymag.co.za caught up with Rademan on Wednesday, he admitted it had been a crazy start to his tenure as EP president.

‘I’ve effectively taken over a union that doesn’t exist. When I looked at the books, I realised what a mess there was to clean up. We aren’t in the Currie Cup Premier Division this year, while the Kings’ Super Rugby future is in jeopardy.

‘So where does one start? Well, we have to go back to basics and start from scratch. We will need to draw up a business plan for each element of the union. I’m a businessman, and I’m going to run it as a business. We need to have strict financial control, transparency, transformation and to deliver on any promises that are made.’

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With the administration of the cash-strapped union now returning to local hands, following the appointment of a new leadership, Rademan admitted one of the massive challenges would be to procure sponsorship and support for EP Rugby.

‘We have to accept that we’re not going to get one big sponsor on board. Stakeholders, sponsors and businesses with invested interest have had their trust broken in the past, and now we need to rebuild that.

‘We have to start all over again, but having said that, I’ve already had some interested parties stepping forward to pledge their support, and I truly believe that nothing is impossible, and that we can make this union great again.’

Although Rademan has had a long and successful involvement in Eastern Cape club rugby, he is also a well-respected businessman who will know that resurrecting an effectively bankrupt EP Rugby entity is going to be a Herculean task.

He is also mindful of attracting investors and sponsors should the Kings fall out of Super Rugby, while only competing in the First Division of the Currie Cup.

‘To have the title of EP Rugby president is a massive honour, but it all comes with massive responsibility. Now the work begins, and I believe there are passionate rugby people in the Eastern Cape who can help turn things around.

'You cannot start rebuilding a structure until you’ve cleared all the rubble away, and that’s what we have to do. There are no walls, there is no foundation, we have to clear it all away and start again.’

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Craig Lewis