Springbok centre Jaque Fourie’s arbitration hearing relating to his contractual dispute with the Golden Lions Rugby Union will continue today and should be concluded by tomorrow afternoon.
Craig Ray reports for The Times that Fourie is disputing the validity of his contract, which binds him to the Lions until October 2010. He wants to take up a more lucrative offer from Western Province at the end of the month. He has already resigned from the Lions.
Fourie could have played for the Lions against WP at the weekend, but, because he had resigned, he failed to make himself available for selection.
Independent arbitrator Schalk Burger was tasked with finding a solution to the matter last month and will make his final decision some time this week. His decision will be final, but, given Fourie’s fallout at the Lions, it will raise some serious problems for the player if the ruling goes the Lions’ way.
One Lions insider told The Times: “The Lions don’t care if they have to take a R10-million loan to fight this, they are going to make Fourie honour his contract, even if he has to mow the stadium lawn for the next year.”
Fourie’s lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus, did concede that if the arbitrator ruled for the Lions it would be a difficult position for Fourie.
“Jaque has said he won’t return to the Lions because there has been a breakdown in the relationship with the union, so it’s not only about the contract,” Erasmus said.
“It would be an awkward situation for Jaque if the arbitrator rules in favour of the Lions, because it’s one thing to say there is, or isn’t, a binding agreement and another thing to force someone to play. No one can really do that and there may be a further spin-off in the whole saga because it then becomes an employment/relationship issue, which is different from a contractual dispute.”
But a ruling in favour of the player could have serious repercussions for the sport, as it would call into question the validity of all professional contracts.
The Lions union is also finalising a short list of candidates for the position of director of coaching today. The board meets at 4pm to narrow the list of at least 10 names down to a select group.
The Times understands that former Bulls Super 14-winning coach Heyneke Meyer has applied for the job.Tweet