Yes, this headline is somewhat less inspiring than the alternate version I had in mind, “Turkeys vote for Christmas”, but the net effect is roughly equivalent. Credit must go to new SA Rugby President Mark Alexander for finding a way to drive through a raft of rather significant changes to the governance models of the game.
There is plenty of dust yet to settle and I’ll put my hand up and admit that I don’t yet fully understand the implications and significance of some of the decisions reached. There are some definite highlights, though, that are clear enough, including the following:
- potential recapitalisation of the professional game through a decision to allow private entities to take up to a 74% stake in provincial unions’ commercial arms.
- greater representation of independents on the Executive Council and an increase of the powers of that body (including appointment of the Bok coach)
- formation of a franchise committee to oversee decision-making relating to Super Rugby (thus removing non-franchise unions from meddling in those affairs)
- restructuring membership of the General Council to reduce the overall number of delegates and align with the country’s provincial boundaries. This means each of the nine provinces will send members to GenCo, rather than each of the 14 unions.
All-in-all, it really sounds like some killer blows have been struck in the quest to take management of the game out of the hands of amateur administrators – with those representing smaller unions often holding disproportionate power.
Here is the full set of decisions, as worded in the SA Rugby media release:
· Permitting 74% shareholdings in commercial arms of rugby unions by private equity partners
· Increasing the make-up of the independent and player representation on the Executive Council to five independents with six elected members
· Introducing new committees for franchise (Vodacom Super Rugby) and non-franchise rugby to focus and streamline decision making
· Moving responsibility for the appointment of the Springbok coach and CEO from the General Council to the Executive Council
· Removing the selection committee while retaining a selection convenor to work with national team coaches
· Aligning with the country’s geopolitical boundaries by moving to nine members of SA Rugby, while retaining 14 playing unions
· Reducing the presidential roles from three to two by removing the vice presidency from 2018