Following allegations of financial mismanagement while working at Stellenbosch University, South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux will no longer lead the search for the next Springbok coach.
Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport revealed that SARU president Oregan Hoskins has decided that it would be best for the organisation to rely on just SARU’s High Performance Committee comprising SARU vice-president James Stoffberg, former Stormers chairman Pat Kuhn, former Boland president Francois Davids and current Lions president Kevin de Klerk to find a successor to Heyneke Meyer.
This follows a meeting of the SARU Executive Council (Exco) on Friday, where the situation around Roux was set to be discussed.
Instead, SARU sent out a terse one-sentence statement, which read: “The Executive Council of SA Rugby on Friday adjourned its scheduled February meeting to be resumed on a date to be determined.”
Last week, Afrikaans news website Netwerk24 reported that Roux is accused of channelling around R32 million in unauthorised transfers from Stellenbosch University’s financial management system to the Maties Rugby Club, of which he was the chairman, while he worked as a senior director of finance for the university, according to an audit report by KPMG.
The funds were supposed to provide bursaries to rugby players at Maties.
Roux’s lawyer Frikkie Erasmus told Rapport that the release of a “forensic report” was “a total surprise”, and that the allegations against Roux were untested.
With regards to appointing the Springbok coach, Roux’s brief was to identify suitable candidates and headhunt them for the job and present a list to the High Performance Committee. That group would make a recommendation to the SARU General Council, who will appoint the new Bok coach.
But the controversy around Roux and the change in the recruitment process may delay an appointment further. SARU stated late last year that there wouldn’t be a decision made on the Bok coach before their next General Council meeting on April 1, but that was on the basis of Roux spearheading the process.
It may take extra time for Stoffberg, Kuhn, Davids and De Klerk to identify suitable candidates as they have their own jobs and are not full-time employees of SARU.
Former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is still regarded as the front-runner to replace Meyer. Coetzee is currently coaching Japanese club Kobe Steelers, but Rapport stated that Coetzee has been contacted via SMS to ask if he is available for the Bok job.
However, the former SARU scrumhalf hasn’t been formally contacted, which has resulted in speculation that another ex-Stormers coach, Rassie Erasmus, could take temporary charge of the Boks for the three-Test series against Ireland in June.
Erasmus is already working for SARU as the General Manager of the Rugby Department, where he heads up the Mobi-Unit which assists all national and provincial teams in South Africa.
He has a strong staff complement working with him, including renowned defence guru Jacques Nienaber, kicking expert Louis Koen and scrum doctor Pieter de Villiers.
If Erasmus does take over for the Ireland series in June, it would give SARU some breathing space to look for another candidate, if they so wish, because after that the Boks’ next assignment would be only in the Rugby Championship, starting on August 20 against Argentina in Nelspruit.