Kings row over Mallett

Urgent meeting called after EPRU’s Matika criticised team’s owners for asking former Bok coach for help

Concerned Kings board president Andre Rademan had called the meeting in order to restore peace between the warring parties.
Concerned Kings board president Andre Rademan had called the meeting in order to restore peace between the warring parties.
Image: George Byron

Rugby bosses will gather in Port Elizabeth on Monday to try and resolve a bitter feud between EP Rugby Union deputy president Bantwini Matika and the business consortium who own the Isuzu Southern Kings PRO14 franchise.

Matters reached a head on Thursday when Matika, who is also a Kings board member, lashed out at the team’s owners for asking Nick Mallett to help them in the process to appoint a new coach.

Sources said concerned president Andre Rademan had called the meeting in order to restore peace between the warring parties.

It is expected that Rademan and Matika will meet with Kings chair Loyiso Dotwana and deputy chair Rory Stear. Other executive members will also be present.

Approached for comment, Rademan said: “Yes, it is true that I have called for an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss matters.

“I will, however, only make a full statement at an appropriate time after the meeting.”

The Kings have a 74% share and the EPRU 26% in the PRO14 franchise, and Matika feels that the EPRU have been marginalised.

Matika attacked the business consortium and said he had to read about Mallett’s involvement in the newspapers.

A power struggle for control of the Kings has erupted and Rademan is determined to restore peace.

Matika, in a Facebook rant on Wednesday evening, labelled former Springbok coach Mallett as a product of racist South African rugby and said his help was not needed to find a replacement for Deon Davids.

On Thursday, he also accused Dotwana of not knowing rugby and that he was relying on what he said were white liberal brains to help him.

“We are testing whether the EP Rugby Union, as a minority shareholder, are significant or insignificant,” Matika said.

On Tuesday, Kings high-performance director Robbi Kempson said Mallett would be assisting in the selection process to find a new head coach.

Mallett also held a two-day management culture-building session with the Kings.

In his response, Dotwana said an internal process had begun to deal with the issue.

“The series of Facebook posts from Mr Bantwini Matika are completely unacceptable and do not represent the views or position of the board of the Kings,” he said.

“We have already initiated a process to deal with this unfortunate incident internally.

“We have previously communicated that the Kings are looking to appoint a new head coach. As a result, the board is assembling a reputable panel of experts to assist in the interviewing of prospective candidates.

“However, this panel has not yet been finalised, but it must be pointed out it will be chaired by the chairman of the board.

“We believe Nick Mallett has the right expertise to assist us in selecting a coach who will help build a professional and competitive rugby team for the future.

“The Kings are the first black-owned rugby franchise in SA and, as such, are fully committed to the transformation of the sport.”

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