GOLDEN Lions Rugby Union CEO Manie Reyneke yesterday admitted he empathised with No8 Willem Alberts and fullback Louis Ludik, after lodging an official complaint against them with the South African Rugby Union (Saru) for breach of contract.
Zeena Isaacs reports for The Business Day:
He said the players were misled by rugby administrators, who decided to play unfairly.
Alberts and Ludik, who are contracted to the Lions until the end of next year , abandoned the union late last year and headed to the Sharks despite failing to secure the necessary clearance certificates from the Lions.
Their actions were motivated by the drawn-out arbitration case in which Springbok centre Jaque Fourie escaped from his contract a year early due to a technicality relating to his salary.
Alberts and Ludik’s decision to train with the Sharks infuriated Reyneke, who, despite his anger, shied away from taking action even after the Sharks included Alberts in their squad for warm- up games against the Western Force and Stormers.
But seeing Alberts in a Sharks jersey in their friendly against the Western Force on Tuesday night — in which the Sharks were thumped 26-0 — was the last straw, prompting Reyneke to lay a complaint against the player and the Sharks for playing him despite being contracted to the Lions.
Reyneke also lodged a complaint against Ludik for training with the Sharks while under contract to the Lions.
Saru confirmed that the Lions had laid a complaint for breach of regulations relating to the movement of players and said it referred the matter to its judicial committee chairman, Judge Lex Mpati, who will be responsible for appointing a judicial committee to investigate the matter.
“I feel sorry for the players because they are being influenced by administrators who are not playing the game fairly,” said Reyneke. “I have said from the outset that no two contracts are the same, so they cannot take it for granted that their contracts are the same as Jaque’s.”
Reyneke said the value the union attached to contracts motivated their decision to lodge complaints against the players and the Sharks.
“If you sign a contract you must be willing to see it out,” said Reyneke. “That is why we are taking a stand. It is common practice to try to find loopholes in contracts, but if it states that disputes have to be resolved through arbitration, then it should go through that channel.”
He also squashed suggestions that trying to force players who had lost their desire to play for the team could backfire, and said he believed Alberts and Ludik were professional enough to give their best on the field if they were forced to return to the Lions.
Reyneke is confident they have a good case. “We wouldn’t have gone this far if we didn’t believe we had a good case,” he said. “So we are confident we can win.”Tweet