Eastern Cape Sport & Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Bulelwa Tunyiswa is flanked by department official Peter Mbebe (left) and SA Rugby representative Monde Tabata. Photo: Pedro Mapelo
Eastern Cape Sport & Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Bulelwa Tunyiswa is flanked by department official Peter Mbebe (left) and SA Rugby representative Monde Tabata. Photo: Pedro Mapelo

EAST LONDON – The Eastern Cape Department of Sport Recreation, Arts and Culture has given the Border Rugby Union more than R4 million in order to participate in national competitions – again.

The announcement was made by MEC Bulelwa Tunyiswa at a press conference held in East London on Friday, and which was attended by SA Rugby executive member Monde Tabata, among others.

Tunyiswa said her department decided to engage all the relevant stakeholders to solve Border Rugby Union’s problems.

Border are well known for producing a number of excellent rugby players, who are currently playing at top unions and the Springboks.

But the Border Rugby Union administration was disbanded by the SA Rugby Union (Saru) in 2017, after failing to manage their finances.

Because of a lack of funds, players were not paid their full salaries, while pension fund and medical aid contributions were also not honoured.

“In January 2019, a process of engagement between DSRAC, Eastern Cape Sport Confederation and Buffalo City Municipality started to take the lead in negotiating with Saru to reopen the window for the participation by the Border Bulldogs,” Tunyiswa said on Friday.

“It was clear that the plea should be accompanied by financial commitment from the province. The department has therefore ring-fenced an amount of R4 248 100 for the 2019 season.

“The utilisation of the funds will be administered by Saru.”

It was made clear by the department that the money will not be used to pay taxes owed to Sars by the Border Rugby Union.

Tabata, who was representing Saru, gladly welcomed the commitment made by the Eastern Cape government to save rugby at Border.

“We welcome the problem Border Rugby is facing, because 40 percent of the rugby playing population comes from the Eastern Cape.

“There are 14 unions at Saru – the rest of the provincial unions produce 60 percent.

“If we did not work with the MEC and the department to find a solution for Border, we would have done a great disservice to South African rugby.”

Many of the Border Bulldogs players have left and are involved in Varsity Cup competitions and the club Gold Cup.

Now the coaching staff will have to haphazardly assemble a team before the start of the new provincial season towards the end of this month, when the SuperSport Rugby Challenge kicks off.

@PedroMapelo


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