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EP Rugby provisionally liquidated

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The Eastern Province Rugby Union has been provisionally liquidated by the Port Elizabeth High Court complicating issues for the Southern Kings in Super Rugby.

EP Rugby was onwer of the EP Kings and the Southern Kings but SARU have now taken control of the Southern Kings which has blurred the issue of who is resposible for the debts and who “owns” the the players.

The liquidation application was filed in January and initially saw 18 professionally rugby players claim that the EP Kings owed them close on R1.3 million in salary arrears.

Subsequently a further 18 players joined the application as intervening creditors, claiming that EP Kings were in breach of an arbitration ruling awarding them R18 million in respect of salary arrears and other benefits.

The players together with the SA Rugby Players’Association (Sarpa) asked the court to liquidate the EP Kings as a result of them being unable to pay their debts.

The attorney who is representing some of the players, Craig Jessop, told reporters outside the PE High Court that the affairs of EP Rugby would now be placed in the hands of the master and a provisional liquidator would be appointed in due course.

Jessop stressed that the ruling on Thursday was a provisional order and that the final order may or may not be granted on May 10.

He said that EP Rugby would now have until that date to “sort out this mess”.

“I must just say, in the build up to this application, there are certain intermediaries, they know who they are, who have taken long hours into the night to smoke out SARU on their participation in trying to resolve this dispute. They have worked tirelessy but as things stand this thing must come to a point at some stage. As of this morning’s proceedings, we don’t have anything material or meaningful from SARU, we at the very least have at present expressed a desire to participate in these proceedings to try and seek some form of resolution to the ongoing dispute. My players welcome discussions with SARU and hopefully between SARU and EP Rugby this matter can be resolved without delay,” said Jessop.

Jessop added that it appeared there were serious intentions expressed for resolution on the part of local government and SARU.

“At least the doors have been opened for serious discussion on this resolution, certain intermediaries have worked tirelessly in trying to achieve the opening of those doors. We now have members of local government here and at least one can say an undertaking from SARU to get closer to an action to seek out a resolution, we hope that a resolution will be found, should it not be found and a final liquidation passed on, there will be investigations into understanding exactly how this mess arose and to the extent that there is a ability to establish personal liability that will be explored on behalf of my players,” he said

He said that players were left a little disillusioned that despite non payment of the players, Currie Cup and Super Rugby rugby would continue in the Eastern Cape.

“That’s a bitter pill for them to swallow at some level with their accounts not being paid, so we will in due course consider institutional proceedings against the relevant entities to recover if necessary monies owed to our clients, that would include the present the Super King franchise and other entities that may have an interest, so this is by no means the end of the line for the players,” said Jessop.

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape Sports Council President, Mkhululi Magada, said that for the province and sport at large this was a very sad moment.

“We are going to work tirelessly as stakeholders, communicating with SARU at a national level to check on how best we can resolve the matter… Our main priority is to save the current situation because if we don’t save the situation then it means we don’t talk of a Currie Cup.

“This is a joint effort, the office of the MEC, the government, SARU at a national level, sports council at a provincial level, when I say ours, I’m representing the entire stakeholders that are not even present at this meeting,”said Magada.

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