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D-Day for SA Rugby

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The phrase “thank goodness it’s Friday” will ring true for South African rugby on March 28, 2008.


That will be the collective sigh of relief from South Africa’s rugby fraternity on Friday morning, when all eyes will be on a Woodstock hotel, the venue for the annual general meeting of the South African Rugby Union (Saru).


The official AGM notice sent out by Saru earlier this week, informs that “part of the agenda is the election of the union’s president, deputy president and vice-president”.


The elections will bring an end to the state of limbo that has plagued SA rugby since ever-widening divisions manifested itself in Saru’s hierarchy in past months.


The outcome will ensure one of the two warring parties will disappear off national rugby’s landscape, as the two nominees, Oregan Hoskins and Mike Stofile (pictured), will not be standing for posts lower down in the Saru hierarchy, if they lose the vote for the president’s post.


Despite the exhaustive coverage of the elections, there is no indication who win will the race for the presidency, but the overwhelming feeling is it will be closely fought.


After many media interviews, there is much of a sameness about what Hoskins and Stofile stand for, and what they have to offer. However, past experience suggest the pre-election promises, especially those made to vulnerable smaller unions, have been a decisive factor.


That could again be the determining factor in the 2008 version, and the promises will only come to light in the next few weeks.


The 14 unions under the Saru banner will each have three votes and by the time the union delegates enter the election chamber they would have been armed with a mandate from their provinces.


The mandate, as determined by the unions, will determine who the delegates will vote for.


There is nothing stopping a delegate from deciding against the wishes of the union he presents and making his own call instead, since voting is done by secret ballot.


However, the Newlands-based Western Province decided at a recent meeting their three delegates must show each other their ballot papers to ensure they have heeded the union’s mandate.


Western Province, in a show of transparency, have publicly stated that their three votes will be going to Stofile.


There has been a few interesting developments at a WP meeting on Wednesday where officials of the WP Rugby Union told their counterparts on the WP (Pty) Ltd (the professional arm of WP rugby) they were expected to fall in line with the voting wishes of the Union.


Wednesday’s meeting came about after some WP (Pty) Ltd officials felt their one vote should go to Hoskins instead. The WP (Pty) Ltd officials were also reminded they were not affiliated to Saru.


It’s not unheard of that delegates have their own agendas, even though it might be in conflict with the mandate of the union, to whom they are accountable.


There may also be unions who could not reach consensus and leave the decision of who to vote for to their delegates. It is also possible provinces could have a split vote which means delegates from one union will be voting for different candidates.


In the many pre-election polls that has surfaced in the past two weeks, there is a hint that Hoskins may just shade Stofile in the final count.


Apart from the elections, the other two issues that has been close to the hearts and minds of the SA rugby fraternity,m has been transformation and the threat to the Springbok, as the national emblem.


The fact the Boks now have a black coach has not silenced the outcry from some quarters that transformation has failed to ensure the national and Super 14 teams reflect the demographics of the country’s population.


There is still opposition to the use of the Springbok as rugby’s emblem, since some people view it as a reminder of the days when blacks could not

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