As a result of a landmark ruling on Saturday by the labour court in Johannesburg, Springbok and Blue Bulls hard man Bakkies Botha will have to continue in his role as “enforcer” until 2011.
This is because his request to have his contract with the Blue Bulls Company declared null and void was denied with costs.
In other words, Botha will have to honour the remaining three years on his contract, which he extended in September 2006.
The ruling ends his ambitions of joining newly promoted French club Toulon.
Botha, who is currently on national duty with the Springboks on their away leg of the Tri-Nations, had earlier this year asked that the Blue Bulls Company release him from his contract so that he could join Bok teammate and former Bulls captain Victor Matfield at Toulon. His request was turned down.
In an ironic twist, Matfield signed a new three-year deal with the Blue Bulls Company at the beginning of May, turning his back on a lucrative contract with Toulon after only spending six months with the French club.
Another Bulls lock, Francois van Schouwenburg, who had joined Toulon at the end of last year, has also returned to the Blue Bulls for this year’s Currie Cup campaign. In February Botha intensified his attempts to sever ties with his bosses at Loftus Versfeld.
He approached the labour court to have his contract declared invalid. While Botha will be obviously disappointed at being ordered to honour his agreement, Blue Bulls Company chief executive officer Barend van Graan couldn’t contain his relief at the judgment. But he was also hopeful that no damage had been done to relations between the Blue Bulls Company and Botha.
“I heard about this telephonically so I cannot comment on the content of what the court papers say. We are relieved and I am looking forward to a constructive relationship with Bakkies in the future. I haven’t spoken to Bakkies yet,” was all Van Graan was prepared to say last night.
“The court agrees with us that the agreement we have with Bakkies is valid and legal,” said the Blue Bulls Company’s legal adviser, Wilhemien Lensing, on Friday.
Botha can appeal the judgment.
By Vata Ngobeni
o This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on June 28, 2008Tweet