The Bakkies Botha saga – or rather the Bulls versus Toulon battle – just doesn’t want to go away. The latest twist has seen club president Mourad Boudjellal threaten both Botha and the Bulls with legal action.
The ongoing battle of wills and egos – which would have been humorous had it not been such a serious matter – has seen a month-long standoff between the Pretoria-based Bulls and the Toulon club in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast.
Rugby 365 reports that it started last month when Botha, who played a record 26 Tests with fellow World Cup winner Victor Matfield in the Springbok second row, asked to be released from his contract with the Bulls so he can join the ambitious French Second Division (Pro D2) outfit.
However, the Bulls have denied his request and insisted he fulfils his contract with them – which runs until 2011.
The enigmatic Boudjellal has repeatedly claimed that he has a legal and binding contract with Botha – who was originally set to join the Toulon club at the beginning of March.
That deadline arrived and went by, with Botha continuing to train with the Bulls in Pretoria.
He was named to play for the Bulls against the Sharks in a Super 14 match last Saturday, but withdrew because he had not fully recovered from an ankle injury. He has again been named in the team this week – to face the Lions on Friday and in the Bulls’ tour squad to Australasia.
However, Boudjellal has reacted angrily to reports that he has lost out in the battle to secure Botha’s services and have now threaten legal action.
“On the matter of Bakkies Botha: The player signed a contract and must be in Toulon on April 1, 2008. If he is not present, the RCT [Rugby Club Toulonnais] will initiate a legal procedure against the player and the Bulls,” an angry Boudjellal said in a video interview posted on the club’s website.
However, it is believed that Boudjellal’s reaction is that of a man who is angry because he feels insulted after his authority was challenged and he doesn’t like it.
The Frenchman knows that the contract he has signed with Botha – through a French agent – has a clause that says the Springbok’s arrival is subject to the lock forward getting clearance from the Bulls.
And that clearance is not forthcoming.
With his ego and reputation now damaged, Boudjellal is trying to save face and it is unlikely his latest outburst will mount to anything.
But the verbal jousting between the egotistic French club owner and the Bulls officials may well continue for a while.
The Bulls have already taken their case to the South African Rugby Union (SARU), who in turn have enlisted the help of the International Rugby Board (IRB) to keep Botha in South Africa.Tweet