Proposed business rescue plan to save EPRRS and EP Rugby from final liquidation

BY MARC JACOBSON - MAY 12, 2016

The cash-strapped Eastern Province Rugby Union have failed to pay the referees in the province for their services since the end of July last year.

EP Rugby would usually pay a stipend amount of R75 to R100 per game, with referees for top games getting R150 per match. In addition, if referees were to travel outside of Port Elizabeth to officiate games, they should get additional travel allowances for petrol costs.

Jacque Hugo, chairman of the Eastern Province Rugby Referees Society (EPRRS) told African News Agency (ANA) that the respective referees would continue their services for the love and continuation of the game. 120 referees in total have been severely affected and their continuation comes at the backdrop that they wanted to keep the sport alive in the province.

In addition to the lack of financial compensation, he said that there was also always a chance of physical and verbal abuse when officiating rugby matches.

“I try to appeal to the guys to go out there and let the game of rugby continue, at the end of the day it’s about 30 players who want to play and we want to deliver that service,” said Hugo.

Hugo stated that EP Rugby were not employers of the EPRRS and that this meant the organization had no contract agreement to stipulate payment costs. He sympathized and understood that the referees on the receiving end are going through a difficult time.

“EP Rugby were supposed to make payments as a token of good faith or a gesture, it is unfortunate, especially for young referees who are unemployed or contract workers” he added.

However, it had emerged at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday, that a possible lifeline could be extended to the EPRU, by which SA Rugby were working toward a sponsorship deal worth R80 million to save the union from final liquidation.

The EPRU were placed under provisional liquidation until May 10th in order to settle outstanding debts. This was then postponed to May 31st in order for a business rescue plan to be fully prepared and finalised.

This rescue plan will be implemented with accordance to the cash injection, from an investor who is still unknown. EP Rugby, will in essence, have to motivate and reason to the court how the respective rescue plan will save the union from permanent liquidation.

The rescue plan will come at the back-drop of not just the EPRRS, but also the players’ association of the EPRU, who have failed to receive salaries in consecutive months.

Respective lawyers representing EP Rugby for provisional liquidation are expected to hand over the rescue application to the PE High Court by May 24th.