Border Rugby Union down and out
SA Rugby announces suspension of Border, takes control of union
The Border Rugby Union (BRU) officially hit rock bottom on Friday when the SA Rugby Union confirmed swirling rumours and released a statement saying that the BRU had been suspended from its SA Rugby membership.
This was due to the dire financial situation and the on-going administration issues that the union currently finds itself in, after it had stumbled to new lows this year.
The decision was taken by the Executive Council (Exco) of SA Rugby at a meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday. The Exco exercised its constitutionally mandated powers relating to the financial affairs of unions, which means SA Rugby has suspended all funding to the BRU, participation in all SA Rugby competitions and participation in all SA Rugby meetings and governance structures. It also allows SA Rugby to appoint an administrator to take full control of the union’s affairs.
Border first asked SA Rugby to assist in 2014, when an administrator was appointed to take limited financial oversight, but Border rugby took back full control halfway through last year, a decision which now looks to have been a big mistake.
Earlier this year the BRU was sued by the SA Rugby Players Association (Sarpa), on behalf of 24 professional rugby players employed by Border.
They were also seeking to liquidate the BRU after payments of the squad’s medical aid and pension contributions were so in arrears that the players had refused to train during the weeks leading up to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and were threatening to not play any matches in the competition as a result.
But a last gasp R800,000 bailout from the Buffalo City Municipality saw that crisis averted, with BRU president Pumlani Mkolo claiming at the time that their financial problems were a thing of the past.
However, earlier this month the players went on strike, refusing to train during the week leading up to their final Currie Cup First Division pool match against the Griffons after not receiving their salaries for September.
At the time, Director of Border Rugby Dumisani Mhani claimed the problems were due to an ongoing battle with SARS that had now came to a head, and had impacted the players. A part payment was then made, which saw the players return for a final practice and the match.
But the Griffons duly brushed past an undercooked Border team which ended their 2018 participation as they missed out on the knockouts.
Now due to the escalating issues the Exco has applied the full extent of its constitutional powers.
“This intervention is for the benefit of rugby in the Border region and has only been taken as a last resort,” said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander. “The union has critical financial problems and repeated attempts to engage with the union’s leadership on a turnaround strategy have had no success. Other members with similar challenges have engaged with us but Border have repeatedly missed scheduled engagements both with the SA Rugby Executive Council and Finance Committee. We were left with no alternative.”
Alexander said SA Rugby would appoint an administrator in the short term to ensure that club and schools rugby would continue to function.
“The administrator will report back to the Executive Council by the end of the year with a clear picture of the state of the union’s indebtedness and what options we may have for the trading entity,” he said.
“The Border region is a very important pipeline for the emergence of black players and we could not stand by and watch it fall into complete disrepair. However, we’re aware it faces significant financial challenges and SA Rugby does not have a magic wand to fix it at a stroke.”
Mhani was unable to answer questions from the Dispatch. “We are unable to comment on the situation at this moment, but the Border rugby executive is busy drafting a statement that will be released in due course,” he said...