Ongoing EP rugby woes

There appears to be no end in sight to the drama engulfing EP rugby. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

At the end of May, it was revealed in court documents that London-based company Integrated Sport was willing to invest R100-million over the next five years as part of a proposal that aims to save the beleaguered union from facing final liquidation.

However, numerous doubts and aspersions have since been cast over the credibility of Integrated Sport, including allegations that it is not a registered company in the UK, and that director Christopher Wishlade is insolvent.

Such concerns were also raised by former EP Kings player Ronnie Cooke in court papers he filed towards the end of June. Cooke also alleged that SA Rugby was complicit in fraudulent acts and failing to uphold its own constitution in its administration of the cash-strapped union.

The Herald has since reported that Cooke has received a lawyer’s letter from SA Rugby asking him to withdraw his allegations, involving chief executive Jurie Roux and executive council member Monde Tabata, or face the prospect of possible litigation.

The letter sent by lawyer David Becker said the claims were ‘factually incorrect, intentionally malicious and of an egregious nature’.

However, it’s believed that a number of former players also want the court to reject the business rescue plan due to ongoing doubts about its legitimacy and fears that the plan has no real likelihood of succeeding.

After EP Rugby filed the business rescue application, court proceedings were postponed to 4 August in order to allow the parties who brought the original liquidation application – lawyers for MyPlayers (19 players) and another group of 19 players – to have sufficient time to study the proposal.

Meanwhile, Kings coach Deon Davids is said to be urgently seeking clarity from SA Rugby about future plans in order to ensure preparation can begin for the Currie Cup, and also for next year’s Super Rugby season.

Currie Cup coach Robbie Kempson stepped down from his role last week in order to focus on his duties at the EP Academy.

‘At this point, we are still waiting for SA Rugby to confirm with us what the position is. We want to know what the budget is and how everything is going to evolve in terms of the management and contracting of players,’ Davids told The Herald.

‘This is the position we are in. This is a big concern that we have lost so many players and we don’t know who is going to play Currie Cup. The best players get contracts and I cannot give answers to agents and players.

‘Every day is actually crucial and if we don’t move within the next couple of days I don’t see how we can put a proper squad together, even for Super Rugby next year.’

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Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis