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‘Legal opinion’ to settle Bok ban row

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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) will both seek further “legal opinion” as they try to settle the escalating row over the decision last week by the President’s Council to ban overseas-based players from playing for the Springboks.

SARPA had threatened with legal action, players threatened to go on strike in the Currie Cup competition and the players’ union asked SARU’s President Council to “rescind” the decision as the row threatened to spiral out of control.

Several of the World Cup Springboks apparently signed for overseas clubs believing that they would be eligible to continue playing for the Boks.

However, last Thursday SARU’s President’s Council decided that only players who participate in domestic competitions will in future be eligible for selection to the national team.

This ruling is set to come into effect after the World Cup, which starts in France next month.

SARU’s President, Oregan Hoskins, and SARPA’s Chairman, Hennie Le Roux met, as a matter of urgency, on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

Afterwards they issued a joint statement, in which SARU acknowledged that SARPA “should have been engaged prior to the decision having been made” to prohibit players not participating in local competitions from being selected for national teams.

“There exists the need to engage in regular and ongoing dialogue between the two parties and their relative constituents,” the joint SARU and SARPA statement said.

Both parties reaffirmed the importance of focusing on the imminent World Cup.

However, they also agreed to “seek common legal opinion” regarding the rights of both parties with respect to the matter under consideration.

“The outcome of this legal opinion step will assist in determining future action(s) to be taken, either jointly, or by the parties individually,” the statement concluded..

At the weekend the SARPA president, Le Roux, said that he is confident they will convince the President’s Council to change their stance before the matter ends up in the courts.

SARPA said they would be prepared to legally challenge the governing body’s decision to ban the Springbok selection of overseas-based players in 2008.

“It [the ban] is totally unacceptable,” Le Roux told this website.

“We are questioning the constitutional legality of the matter and it also involves a restriction of the freedom of trade.

“From that point of view will contest the matter,” he added.

Le Roux said they, SARPA and the players, are bitterly disappointed that they were never informed about this decision and that without any input from SARPA or the players such drastic measures were taken.

“It is totally unprofessional,” the 1995 World Cup-winning Springbok centre said.

“I have spoken to Oregan [Hoskins, SARU president] on Friday afternoon and we will meet Monday or Tuesday to rectify the matter.

“We will ask the President’s Council to rescind the decision. In principle it is also an issue we believe is unconstitutional … which this instance has highlighted and given us the opportunity to fight this.

“I’m pretty confident if they [the members of the President’s Council] are confronted with the facts and the issues with the rights of individuals, along with the fact that it’s unconstitutional, we should be able to get them to rescind it and do away with it entirely.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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