SA Rugby on Saturday welcomed an announcement that professional sports teams could begin the process of returning to training under Level 3 lockdown easing.
Mr Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture, made the announcement at a briefing on Saturday as he reported on the Department’s COVID-19 sector relief fund.
Mr Mthethwa said sports teams had 14 days to submit proposals to the Department on how they would ensure the safety of the players and officials.
He also announced that non-contact sports could return to play, if they observed all the necessary regulations.
“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
“We submitted a comprehensive, staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.
“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training.
“But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”
SA Rugby announced the suspension of all rugby on 18 March.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Amidst all the hype and fanfare and labelled the best Super 14 tournament ever, seemingly the glory and honeymoon phase are over, with the aftermath leaving a bitter taste for all rugby loving supporters, well that’s according some news reports.
The Eastern Cape Super 14 Rugby Competition is regarded as the flagship tournament in the province, not only the monetary value in prizes, but the media hype, exposure to a semi-professional set-up and most importantly the social cohesion it brings between supporters and their clubs. It takes rugby from the best facilities in your suburban areas and open our eyes with the crumbling playing conditions in our rural areas. Most importantly it pits the best that Border Rugby can offer against the cream of Eastern Province rugby with the ultimate prize, to be crowned the best team in the province.
So, in a matter of two months, that feels like a distant dream, with wide spread media coverage of non-payment of prizes. Is it a matter of poor administration or genuine organizational glimpses that led to the delay? The final was played at BCM Stadium on the 14th March where Progress stunned local favourites Swallows 28-24. The reward, a hefty R60 000.00 pay day with the runners-up taking home R40 000.00, the losing semi-finalist earmarked to receive R25 000.00 each and the rest of the teams R15 000.00.
Its well documented that rugby bosses of both Swallows and Progress made scathing media statements eluding to the fact that they have not received any payments yet. One should also be reminded that not only the two clubs is affected but the entire 14 clubs that participated. Is this a genuine concern or just to get public empathy and sympathy? What is more concerning the breach in tournament rules which can lead to a suspension from future tournaments. For bringing the competition into disrepute is a clear violation of the competition rules as per rule 4.6 which states.
4.6 Media Interactions
(a) The only appointed individuals to speak on behalf of the competition is the Tournament Director or anyone mandated by him to do so.
(c) All clubs are encouraged to interact with the media only to promote their clubs and matches and may not in any way make statements or utterances that may denigrate the status of the Competition or officials. A breach of this rule may be seen as serious misconduct and may attract a sanction after appearing in front of the Judicial Sub-Committee.
There is contradicting statements coming from the two clubs in mention. Progress Rodney Josephs vehemently denies the report in the Daily Dispatch stating he clearly told the reporter that there was a communique from the tournament director that the money will be paid, but instead, the reporter created his own story. On the other hand, Swallows boss Zuko Matyeshana insist there was no communication. When asked about Rule 4.6 about media statements he said, “I was asked a question by a Daily Dispatch reporter whether we have received our prize-money, which I responded no, I couldn’t lie.
We did not approach the media and it is not during the duration of the tournament”.
Speaking to Phumelela Hlati, the Tournament Director, amidst all the accusations of non-payment, he said. All clubs were kept in the loop of the payments. A communique was sent out on the 17 th March to all club bosses on the S14 group stating that all payments will be made on or before the 27 th March 2020. The unfortunate thing is on the 23th March the
lockdown was announced which came into effect on the 26 th March. I am residing in Komani and the office is based in East London and there was travelling restrictions imposed. Because sport is non-essential, I had no permit to travel”
When asked why payments was made only in East London and could it not be done via a laptop or other mediums. Hlati stated that the prize money was ring fenced so that it doesn’t get lost with all the numerous transactions they make. He said “The two signatories, me and the president must be present to access the account. All payments of Super 14 were
either done on Tuesday or Wednesday and I had to go down to the office to process them. That is what has been happening from the beginning of the tournament. Payments were done at the office. I have limited ability to do transactions on the go”.
Late payments are not something new as there was also late payments in 2019. One could argue this year that no sport is being played at this point and time, so the urgency of payments is totally different.
Is there a conspiracy theory levelled against the organizers of the tournament? One must look back at the furore and uproar caused by Swallows supporters when the final was moved from NU1 Stadium in Mdantsane to BCM Stadium with the aftermath vocal altercations on social media, including a lengthy letter by Swallows Supporters Club. That too fuelling an emotional attachment of the community of Mdanstane, robbing them of staging a final at their door step. With Progress denying the statements in the media, questions would still be raised what they would gain in the whole debacle.
Fact is, there is no record stating any team was never paid what is due to them from previous competitions, albeit late or in time. Could this whole issue have been resolved by virtue of a phone call? So far only one club, Harlequins, formally asked for clarity just before lockdown via an email send to the organisers. The media spat have had a positive outcome, with Mkhululi Magada ensuring to organize a permit for Hlathi so that payments could be made on Friday.
For now, we are facing an interesting couple of days, weeks, months. Could we see the both finalists been absconded from the tournament for voicing their dissatisfaction in the media in clear violation of the competition’s rules, if found guilty. What measures will the steering committee take to remedy the situation for future tournaments. Was this even necessary as it not only paints a bleak prospect for the competition but could negatively impact the funding for future tournaments.
For R32-12 you can have the shirt off Siya’s back, the boots off Bongi’s feet or have a personal Rugby World Cup trophy tour – to your home! – as part of a major new charity initiative launched by SA Rugby on Tuesday.
The Springbok Rugby World Cup squad has put up cherished mementos in what may just be rugby’s biggest-ever raffle with all proceeds going to hunger alleviation charities, Food Forward SA and Gift of the Givers.
And R32-12? The campaign has been built around the score in the Rugby World Cup final in November, in which the Springboks defeated England, 32-12. To find out more on the campaign, click here, or you can head straight to Computicket to buy.
In all there’ll be 44 prizes (32 + 12), the campaign will run for 44 days, and if fans help the Springboks do the supporting and buy 100 000 tickets that’ll be R3,212m for food parcels and soup kitchens in this time of dire need.
Individuals and companies wishing to make a straightforward donation to the campaign can do so by direct payment into a dedicated FNB account – account number 62851652638; branch code 210554; swift code: FIRNZAJJ.
“When I made the call for the squad to make donations, they were all in within a matter of hours – boots and all!” said Rassie Erasmus, SA’s Director of Rugby.
“We talked a bit last year about what pressure was – not having a job, having a family member murdered – and now this pandemic has put millions out of work and left as many struggling every day to put food on the table.
“All year round we ask South Africans to support us in different ways. Our campaign last year was called #StrongerTogether and we believed it. We said, if we stood together, we were stronger as a nation. Well now’s the time to put those words into action and for the Springboks to do the supporting.”
SA Rugby has partnered with South Africa’s largest food redistribution agency, Food Forward SA, and disaster relief experts, Gift of the Givers, to ensure that every cent raised goes straight to the front line in the war against hunger.
Managing Director of Food Forward SA, Andy du Plessis said: “We are honoured to be selected as one of SA Rugby’s two beneficiary partners at a time when there’s an estimated 30 million South Africans requiring food in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.
“While the scale of the challenge is daunting, since launching our R50m COVID19 Appeal to scale-up our distribution network, we are distributing 250,000 food parcels to over 1005 Beneficiary Organisations each month, which directly benefits more than 1,5m vulnerable people.
“Each food parcel, consisting of a variety of non-perishable groceries and fresh produce, provides a family with food essentials for three to four weeks (depending on household size). For every R50 received, FoodForward SA is able to provide the equivalent of two meals per day to a hungry person, for a month.”
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, said: “Hunger has become a greater challenge than Covid-19. Our teams witness the queues, the anxiety of uncertainty, of not knowing whether you are a fortunate recipient of this dignity restoring food aid, a R350 package that stands between you and starvation.
“They witness the desperation, intuitively aware that hungry children, physically and mentally challenged family members and the elderly are waiting patiently and expectantly at home for some Manna to quell the hunger pangs but alas, there just simply isn't enough to go round as millions, including the middle class, are in dire straits.
“It is at such times when you need that lifeline, the announcement that SA Rugby, its management and team, are throwing their weight behind your initiative, your heart and soul lights up. Stronger Together, a second time, but this time the crisis is far greater than we ever envisaged as a nation,” added Dr Sooliman.
Each day for the next 44 days, SA Rugby will reveal a new prize on its website www.springboks.rugby and on its social media channels.
The launch day of the raffle saw Springbok captain Siya Kolisi put up one of his Rugby World Cup jerseys into the prize pool as a highly significant contribution to the campaign.
“I have seen up close the really bad state many people are in through the work of my foundation, so when coach Rassie explained what they were planning to do, I had no hesitation,” said Kolisi.
“I went hungry when I was a kid, but it was nothing as bad as some people are suffering right now. We might not raise millions, but you don’t know how much it means to each single person to have one proper meal a day – it could save their lives right now.
“I really hope people get behind us for the main reason of the campaign – to feed the hungry – as well as having the chance of winning something special from one of the squad.”
A new raffle prize will be revealed each day with the last offering to be revealed on 1 July. The draw will be made by PwC one week later. Click here to enter the raffle.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications