Premier Rugby has lodged a formal complaint to the International Rugby Board, over South African Rugby Union statements, as the Butch James saga continues to escalate.
With last year’s Springbok ‘armband protest’ and the IRB’s unhappiness with the Boks’ conduct still fresh in the mind, the possibility of a ban being imposed on John Smit and his team has resurfaced.
The latest complaint against SARU and the Bok camp follows the decision to pull James, who plays his club rugby for Bath in the UK, out of Saturday’s one-off Test against Wales.
Having been recalled to the Bok line-up for the first time in nearly two years, James, unwittingly, now finds himself in the middle of an ugly public spat between his country, his club and Premier Rugby.
Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation responsible for managing the 12 professional clubs in England, have since won their ‘dispute’ with the South African Rugby Union over the services of the World Cup-winning Bok.
However, on Thursday SARU President Oregan Hoskins and acting MD Andy Marinos expressed their unhappiness with Premier Rugby – which has now resulted in a riposte from the English organisation.
Premier Rugby has confirmed that they will lodge a formal complaint with the IRB.
“Following comments reported to have been made by the South African Rugby Union at the press conference yesterday [Thursday], Premier Rugby will regrettably have to make a formal complaint to the IRB alleging a breach of international regulations by SARU through their actions and statements this week,” the statement said.
“These actions and statements have been repeatedly directed against Bath Rugby and Premier Rugby and seem to have been designed to put unfair pressure on the player and his club, who have acted in accordance with the IRB’s regulations and to deflect attention away from the real causes of the issue.
“June matches in the international calendar are played in the southern hemisphere and the schedule is settled years in advance. Apparently this extra one-off match outside the schedule and in the northern hemisphere was only arranged earlier this year and seems to be primarily a money-making exercise for which SARU is apparently receiving a large fee.
“When arranging a match outside the international window, all Unions should be aware of their regulations concerning player release. On Wednesday, it became clear that SARU had not properly understood these regulations.
“As a result, actions have been taken and statements made by SARU which have been damaging to the interests of the player, his club and Premier Rugby.”
It will be the second time in less than a year that SARU faces a possible IRB disciplinary hearing.
In August last year an IRB disciplinary hearing imposed a fine of £10,000 (ZAR113,000) on SARU, £200 (ZAR2,260) against each of the other players who wore the protest armbands and £1,000 (ZAR11,300) against captain John Smit.
The action arose from the SA national team and management wearing armbands during the third Test against the British & Irish Lions on July 4 – as a protest action, following the upholding of Bakkies Botha’s two-week suspension.
At the time the IRB made it clear that had it not been for the “legal technicalities” (including the fact that the Committee felt it had to take a “necessarily strict interpretation” of certain aspects of Regulation 17), both SARU and the Springbok players and management would have faced much more serious sanctions.
This, according to the IRB, included a more severe fine in the case of SARU and the suspension of the Springbok players and management from the World Cup 2011.
The IRB said at the time that they gave “serious consideration” to bringing an appeal against the level of sanctions imposed against SARU and the Boks.
And they also made it clear that they took into consideration the Schalk Burger eye-gouging case, which saw the Bok flank banned for eight weeks at the time.
Article originally Posted on Rugby 365Tweet