Kings players, led by Kevin Luiters and Ronnie Cooke, have handed over their petition of grievances to Cheeky Watson.
The EPRU president and members of the union’s executive met with a group of Kings players, who handed over a petition at the union’s offices in Port Elizabeth on Monday. Besides the petition calling for changes to the management and leadership structures at the Kings, concerns were also expressed over the arrangement with Saru to take over the Southern Kings franchise for Vodacom Super Rugby next year.
Before the meeting, a scuffle between members of the Transformation Coalition and security staff took place, with a statement from EP Rugby suggesting that members of the coalition tried to force their way onto the premises.
'Both the EP Rugby administration and the players distanced themselves from the scuffle,' the statement read. 'Players and administration had agreed that the issues being discussed were of a human resources nature and that the meeting was to be a closed session, with players calling for calm before the meeting began. At no point were players locked out of EPRU offices. Police were called to assist when Qondekile Sompondo, of Grassroots and who is not affiliated with any club structure related to the union, became physical with EP Rugby security and tried to force his way into the EPRU offices and the meeting.'
During the meeting, players said they were unhappy about the fact that only some of them would be offered contracts for Super Rugby from Saru, with the remaining players reliant on the Eastern Province Rugby Union to pay them their outstanding salaries. They asked Watson to try and find another solution that would allow all the players, who had been working hard throughout the year to prepare for Super Rugby, the chance to be paid and to participate.
The players allegedly also distanced themselves from the South African Rugby Players' Association, saying that they felt it was not representing their best interests.
Watson said he was well aware of the challenges that the players were facing and that the union was doing everything it could to resolve the matter.
'We have never experienced something like this before, these challenges were not foreseen and we never expected to get to this point. To our knowledge no players have been approached by Saru, as yet, so we don't know which players are being offered contracts for Super Rugby next year.'
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images