Cash-strapped WP confirm it will loan out players

Ian Kilbride (CEO of Warwick), Paul Zacks (Western Province Rugby Group CEO) and Thelo Wakefield (WP Rugby Football Union President) during the DHL Stormers training session and press conference at DHL Newlands Stadium on February 15, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Ian Kilbride (CEO of Warwick), Paul Zacks (Western Province Rugby Group CEO) and Thelo Wakefield (WP Rugby Football Union President) during the DHL Stormers training session and press conference at DHL Newlands Stadium on February 15, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

Western Province Rugby chief executive Paul Zacks confirmed that the cash-strapped union would be looking to offload players as part of a strategic plan.

Zacks though‚ denied a report in an Afrikaans language newspaper that it was a complete clear out of players‚ although he did not provide detailed specifics.

"It is regrettable that the public has been presented with a factually incorrect and grossly misleading view of our confidential internal dealings with our senior player group‚” Zacks said.

“We back our contracted players wholeheartedly and all of those players who have contracts with WP Rugby for 2018 and beyond will all be honoured.

“However‚ we want to at all times ensure that we are looking after our players' best interests‚ which for some of them‚ especially those coming off long term injuries‚ means that they may benefit from a loan spell with another franchise in order to get much needed game-time and or exposure to different international competitions.

“Our goal is to ensure a win-win for all parties‚ facilitating more game-time for more players whilst simultaneously benefitting SA Rugby as a whole.

“Any decisions we make about player movements will always consider both the interests of the individual player as well as the Union with players remaining contracted to WP Rugby.”

In the past two years players such as Craig Barry and Kurt Coleman were loaned out to the Cheetahs and Southern Kings for PRO 14 duty respectively. Coleman eventually made the move permanent.

The Sunday report suggested that hooker Scarra Ntubeni and lock Chris van Zyl were two players set to leave the union‚ but the latter denied the report on Monday.

“Contrary to any news report or media (sic)‚ I am staying at WP Rugby and can’t wait to lead this exceptional team in the 2018 Currie Cup‚” Van Zyl wrote on social media.

WP Rugby has been battling on several fronts for almost two years now. In December 2016 the commercial arm of the union was liquidated under pressure of a R250m claim from commercial rights partner Aerios‚ and a new entity‚ WP Rugby was formed.

There is also R44m owed to multinational corporation Remgro‚ who provided bridging finance to the union.

Remgro wanted guarantees their loan was secure and in recent weeks the WP Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) have secured that loan by bonding one (possibly more) of their high value properties.

“WP Rugby can confirm that former WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd shareholder Remgro has not recalled their loans and that WP Rugby is in regular contact with Remgro with regard to its outstanding indebtedness to Remgro‚” a statement from the union said.

The union has also not provided any clarity on the Stormers coaching position after head coach Robbie Fleck and his management underwent their annual review process.

Zacks preferred to focus on the Currie Cup team‚ which left for France on a pre-season tour on Monday.

"Our players and management team under Chris van Zyl and John Dobson respectively showed what they were capable of in winning a Currie Cup Final away from home last year and as a Union we have every confidence in their abilities‚” Zacks said.

“We believe that we have an exceptional player base that is capable of delivering more success during this year’s Currie Cup campaign.”

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