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WP confident in keeping big-name players, wants ’redefined relationship’ with Zelt Marais

Western Province Rugby chairman, Ebrahim Rasool. Photo: Siphephile Sibanyoni/African News Agency/ANA

Western Province Rugby chairman, Ebrahim Rasool. Photo: Siphephile Sibanyoni/African News Agency/ANA

Published Dec 15, 2020


CAPE TOWN - Western Province Rugby chairman, Ebrahim Rasool says the search for a company CEO will commence in January 2021.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Rasool and Stormers and Western Province head coach John Dobson updated the media on a wide range of "pertinent matters", including the filling of the vacant CEO position.

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Rasool stated that there had been a full-day board meeting on Saturday, where open discussions had been held to discuss the way forward and address the ‘issues and perceptions’ that are facing the union.

Last week, American consortium MVM Holdings said in a statement that they would be pursuing other opportunities in rugby, while Flyt Property Investment said that they would be seeking "damages" over reneging on an agreement signed in June 2020.

Amid all of this, Rasool said that they want to act in a way that will allow them to chase “excellence both on and off the field”.

“We want to act in a way that shows that the Western Province Professional Rugby Board is indeed pursuing a path of excellence, not just on the rugby field, but also in the boardrooms and off the rugby field," he said.

"And therefore, we have decided to make pivotal changes with the aim of achieving excellence both on and off the field. And if it's off the field, then it must be underpinned by sound governance and good leadership of the company.

"In order to achieve on the field, we want a world class rugby team capable of at least being in the final of the Currie Cup next year and a major contender for international championships in the season after that.

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"We are aware that player happiness and security must be linked with financial accountability and sustainability, transparent governance, continuous sustained engagement with all our stakeholders, as well as the goals of inclusive transformation. We know that our credibility rests on putting together and implementing a practical and credible action plan.”

Western Province president Zelt Marais

Rasool also highlighted the fact that the union and the company are separate entities.

“I stress those words...[we are appointing] a separate company CEO. Our goal is to separate between the obligations and jurisdictions of the shareholder and that of the board and the company.”

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The chairman went on to explain how Solly Moeng - an experienced brand manager whom WP welcomed to the board in November along with Lauren Benjamin - will be involved.

“We have also immediately decided to co-opt Mr Solly Moeng, who is on the board, on the management committee in order for predominance of independent board members in the week-by-week decision making of the Western Province Professional Rugby Company.

"We want a majority of independent members even at that operational level. There will also be increased focus on sustained and meaningful engagement with the players, the staff, the sponsors and the public. The board will ensure financial viability into the future by engaging positively with all stakeholders, thereby ensuring confidence and a share understanding of our common objectives.

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"I think that implicit in our commitment to separate the functions of the company and the union, the shareholder and the board, Mr (Zelt) Marais (WPRFU president) remains a valuable director on the board.

"That experience and passion for rugby cannot be bought. [But] we need to ensure that he is not overburdened with responsibilities on both sides.

"The president will continue to conduct enormous responsibilities that go with that within the domains of the shareholder but he will remain a link between the board and the shareholder. We're looking forward to a redefined relationship with the president of the Western Province Rugby Football Union."

John Dobson, head coach of the Stormers during a media conference. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

With all the talks of players leaving the union - especially after the MVM deal fell through and their reported interest in the Sharks - one of the big focuses has been Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi and his future in the Cape.

Dobson, however, said he was confident that they would get their big-name players to stay.

"We are enthused and excited by recent developments. We have had some tough times out there in the media, but as a playing group we know that we are blessed with a world-class team. We want to retain the talent we have.

"Under the chairman's guidance, we've engaged with every single player and all have indicated a desire to stay, and that's a great reflection on the union and franchise. This strategy of the board will give enormous confidence to the players to retain their futures here.”



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