SA Rugby assumes administrative control of Western Province RFU

SA Rugby assumes administrative control of Western Province RFU

  • SA Rugby is taking over administrative control of the embattled Western Province Rugby Football Union.
  • Former SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer has been appointed as an administrator and will assume oversight of the union’s affairs immediately.
  • SA Rugby president Mark Alexander says the decision is made to stabilise the union’s governance and operational business and it won’t have any direct influence on Stormers affairs.

SA Rugby is set to invoke its constitutional power to take administrative control of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU).

The governing body said in a statement on Tuesday that the advice was provided following a decision by its Executive Council (Exco) on Monday.

Experienced former SA Rugby CEO, Rian Oberholzer, has been appointed as an administrator and will assume oversight of the union’s affairs immediately. His remit includes supervision of the operational affairs of Western Province (Pty) Ltd, which manages the professional playing teams of the Stormers and Western Province.

The president of Western Province, Zelt Marais, was informed of the decision on Tuesday morning.

SA Rugby president, Mark Alexander, said in the statement that the decision had been taken with extreme reluctance.

“We had engaged with the WPRFU over a number of months on the challenges the organisation faced and tried to assist them in finding solutions,” Alexander said.

“We attempted to partner in a joint oversight committee but were frustrated in our attempts to receive accurate information and engage constructively.

“However, the union has regressed in its attempts to extricate itself from those challenges and we could no longer stand by.

“This is very much the last resort, but it had become apparent that the union’s leadership was incapable of putting in place the actions to regularise its position.

“Several of the union’s stakeholders have contacted our offices to express their dismay and we are aware of the public alarm.

“Clause 29 of the constitution of the South African Rugby Union charges that all unions have to ‘conduct their business affairs in such a way that, at all times, they are in a sound financial position, comply with the laws of the Republic and adhere to the requirements of good governance’.

“It is Exco’s view that WPRFU has failed that test and we could no longer distribute SA Rugby income in that knowledge. On that basis we have taken this decision with a heavy heart.”

According to SA Rugby, the powers of clause 29 allow for the “assumption of responsibility for the affairs of unions…[including] the suspension from office of their elected and/or appointed officials, and the appointment by SARU of administrators, who shall assume all decision-making powers of the unions at both governance and operational levels, and who shall have the authority to direct employees, including chief executive officers, on a day to day basis, such administrators to report and be accountable to and to take direction from the executive council.”

Alexander added that all stakeholders – the union’s commercial partners, broadcaster, coaching staff, players’ union and United Rugby Championship partners – had been advised of the decision.

He assured supporters that the appointment of an administrator was to stabilise the union’s governance and operational business and was not to have any direct influence on Stormers affairs.

“Clause 29 gives us the authority to remain in administration until the union’s affairs are stabilised,” Alexander said.

“It is not possible right now to put a timeline to that – although it is our intention and desire to make this process as short-lived as possible.

“The most important thing right now is to quietly go about the off-field business so that coach John Dobson and the Stormers squad can focus on performing to their best in their debut season in the United Rugby Championship.”


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