The uncertainty over the future of the SWD Eagles players are continuing to escalate, after the cash-strapped professional arm, Eagles Rugby (Pty) Ltd, was placed under provisional liquidation by the George High Court last week.
The latest developments, just a few weeks ahead of the start of the new domestic season in South Africa, has left the players in limbo and their futures uncertain.
While the cash constraints of the South Western Districts (SWD) Rugby Union’s commercial arm stretches back to 2008 – when a 50 percent share in Eagles Rugby (Pty) Ltd was bought from the South African Rugby Union by Bunker Capital – the sorry saga came to a head earlier this year when players went on strike over the non-payment of salaries.
The turmoil has already cost Eagles valuable players resources – with the likes of Springbok Sevens wing Norman Nelson, moving to Port Elizabeth, star flyhalf Ricardo Croy and young prop Roche van der Westhuizen, both joined Pumas, moving to greener pastures.
What remained behind are a few stalwarts like Springbok fullback Bevin Fortuin and hooker Wayne Bennett.
Insiders familiar with the provisional liquidation order – granted after being brought by a group headed by suspended Eagles Managing Director Stag Cronjé over non-payment of salaries – say Bunker has apparently failed to honour some of its contractual obligations, while Bunker in turn has accused SWD of not paying Eagles all the money it should.
Now it seems SARU will have to not only step in and take over Bunker’s 50 percent stake, but it may also have to cough up more than ZAR10-million to cover Eagles’ debt.
The South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) said it was also holding SWD to its agreement in March, when they declared they would honour the contracts with the players and pay their salaries, which was previously done by the professional arm.
“This order only affects SWD’s professional arm [Eagles Pty Ltd] and it is not yet final,” SARU executive member Dawie Groenewald said.
Groenewald has been asked by SARU to intervene in the situation.
With the final hearing on the matter due in court on August 16 – when the judge will decide whether to liquidate or not – Groenewald will meet with SWD officials next week to map out a way forward.
“The rugby players are not yet in danger,” Groenewald said, adding: “For the past four months the union [SWD] has paid players’ salaries. Bunker has not yet withdrawn, but within the next week or so SARU will [negotiate to] take their 50 percent shares back,” he said.
SARPA spokesman Adrian Coetzee said: “Our members are on leave and due to return on June 28, when we will meet with them to discuss their options. We are however in discussions with SWD and SARU to find a way forward.”
With thanks to SARPA
This article is courtesy of rugby365.com