The former wife of rugby legend-turned-businessman Craig Jamieson has gone to the high court in an urgent application asking for an order that he pay the maintenance he owes, failing which he should be jailed for contempt of court.

Yesterday, when the matter was called before Durban High Court Judge Trevor Gorven, Jamieson’s lawyers suggested the matter was not urgent.

But the judge threatened to put Jamieson in the witness box and explain his stance.

“If someone disobeys a court order is it not urgent?” the judge asked, suggesting that Jamieson should be “very grateful” for the stance adopted by lawyers for his ex-wife, Elizabeth, that he be given a short time to file an opposing affidavit.

“Is he here? Let’s put him in the witness box. Or we can stand it down for him to come here. I would say it’s extremely urgent when a person is accused of disobeying a court order for him to come to court to say either that he has not, or why he has done so,” Judge Gorven said, giving Jamieson one week to file his papers.

Jamieson led the Natal rugby side to victory in its first Currie Cup win in 1990. He became managing director of the union and played a leading role in establishing the “Sharks” brand. He was also director of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

According to an internet site, he is now involved in mergers and acquisitions.

According to documents before the judge, the dispute over money between the couple, who married in 1990 and divorced in 2001, has been going on for several years and relates to a court order.

Elizabeth, in the urgent application before court yesterday, said he now owed more than R300 000 because, she alleged “he has consistently failed to comply with his obligations since 2009”.

In a related application for his sequestration – which was also before Judge Gorven yesterday – are photographs of Jamieson’s R4 million “lavish home” in Salt Rock on the North Coast which has no outstanding bond and is registered in the name of his new wife.

Elizabeth brought that application in December 2011 claiming that she had twice tried to execute writs she had obtained for money she said she was owed. Both times the Sheriff was unable to identify any property in his name which could be attached.

In her affidavit, she said a trustee needed to be appointed to investigate the nature and extent of her ex-husband’s business and there was a “realistic probability” that his home and contents could be part of his estate.

Craig, in his answering affidavit, said Elizabeth, an attorney, was “abusing the court process” merely to embarrass him into paying a debt which she knew was disputed – an allegation she denies.

He said he was still doing calculations and would pay what amount “if any” he was legally obliged to, and asked for the application to be dismissed, with costs.

But in her contempt-of-court application, Elizabeth said that since submitting that affidavit in March this year he had not paid any maintenance, and he had never previously mentioned that he disputed the amount he owed.

“If he is to be taken at his word that he is not insolvent and is able to pay whatever amounts are owing, the only possible inference is that he is in flagrant, deliberate and male fide contempt of his obligations contained in the court order,” she says.

Judge Gorven ordered that all the papers be filed by next week, after which the matter would be set down for argument.