Kings drama continues

Sarpa representatives will conduct intensive meetings with senior players from the Kings over the next two days in Port Elizabeth. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

South African Rugby Players’ Association CEO Piet Heymans and Eugene Henning, managing director of the MyPlayers organisation, are in PE to brief players on the ongoing situation at the embattled Kings, and to provide clarity around the contracting plans.

It’s believed that Saru will contract only around half of the planned 42-player Southern Kings squad, with these selected players expected to have to negotiate and sign new contracts, and which in certain cases may require a pay cut.

As per the mandate of the Saru exco, there is a limited budget for contracting as Saru looks to finalise the Super Rugby squad and make payments to players and management.

With the other half of the Super Rugby squad expected to come from the existing EP Kings squad, and the cash-strapped EPRU remaining responsible for the salaries of a large portion of players, it’s understandable that a number of them have expressed concerns over the viability of the plan.

Certain players met on Friday night, with around 30 believed to have signed a petition that raised a number of concerns and requests.

The players’ petition was planned to be handed in at the EP rugby offices at 10am on Monday, but the word from Port Elizabeth was that players and media were initially greeted by locked gates before finally being allowed to enter the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after some heated exchanges, which also saw a physical scuffle ensue. There were also believed to be plans for several disgruntled clubs to demonstrate their unhappiness with the leadership at the EPRU headquarters.

The petition reads as follows:
‘I hereby confirm that I am joining the EP Rugby Funding Petition and Rugby Player Strike. I will not be prepared to work for EP Rugby Pty Limited, Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) or Southern Kings Pty Limited, SA Rugby Pty Limited or Saru (acting on behalf of Sanzar or EPRU) or any associated companies until such time as there is an Annual General Meeting or Extraordinary/Special General Meeting of the EPRU in order that the order of business is as follows:
1. An irrevocable pledge by EPRU and Saru that all players' outstanding salaries and benefits are fully paid up on or before the 18 December 2015.
2. A vote by member clubs in favour, or not in favour of the current EPRU Executive Committee on or before the 12 December 2015.
3. Credible and competent rugby turnaround specialists be permitted to present proposals of a sustainable funding model in association with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality on or before Friday, 11 December 2015.
4. A vote of confidence by the EPRU clubs in the new proposal and administration and management leadership to take place on or before Saturday, 12 December.’

Photo: Michael Sheehan/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis