No Saru ruling in contracts row

2010-02-11 00:00

THE Sharks are heading to court to settle a dispute with the Lions over the contracts of Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik.

The SA Rugby Union’s (Saru’s) judicial officer Koos Basson yesterday refused to rule on the validity of the contracts, and Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl said he will be seeking an urgent ruling from the court.

Van Zyl said he hopes to take the matter to court tomorrow to allow the players to take part in the Super 14 competition, which sees the Sharks meet the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday night.

While Ludik is recovering from injury, the Sharks are keen to involve the powerful Alberts, a 120 kg number eight, in Saturday’s opener.

The two former Lions signed contracts with the Sharks in November, and have been receiving their salaries from the Durban franchise, but have yet to gain clearance from the Lions.

In an attempt to force the Lions’ hand, the Sharks fielded Alberts in the pre-season friendlies against the Western Force in Cape Town last week.

The Lions responded by laying a complaint with the Saru and the matter went before a disciplinary hearing at Newlands in Cape Town yesterday.

Basson ruled that it was beyond the scope of Saru’s regulations to rule on the validity of player contracts.

“He was therefore unable to adjudicate on a complaint brought by the Lions against players Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik and the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union (Sharks),” according to a Saru statement.

The statement said: “The Lions alleged that the Sharks had failed to secure the necessary clearance certificates before using the services of the players, and that the players remained under contract to the Lions.

“However, in making his decision, Basson ruled that the wording of the complaint by the Lions required him to determine the validity of the players’ contracts with the Lions, a responsibility which falls outside the disciplinary regulations of the Saru.

“As a result, Basson was unable to rule on the complaint.”

Van Zyl later said that this was the second time that “SA Rugby had failed to give a final ruling as to whether Alberts or Ludik can compete in the Super 14 rugby competition”.

“On the first occasion, the chairman of the National Judicial Committee of SA Rugby refused to adjudicate what he called a contractual dispute between the Sharks and the Lions.

“Under the circumstances, the Sharks and the players are left with no choice but to get an urgent ruling from court to allow the players to play in the competition.

“We hope to get this ruling on Friday,” said Van Zyl.

The delay in settling the dispute will almost certainly result in Alberts, at best, playing off the bench in Saturday’s game.

Sharks coach John Plumtree was reportedly considering starting with the burly loose forward — with Ryan Kankowski coming off the bench — in an attempt to negate Chiefs’ captain and number eight Sione Lauaki, in what promises to be a tough forward contest.

The Sharks’ team will be named today and it is expected that Springbok Ruan Pienaar, just back in action after surgery, will play off the bench and as backup to halfbacks Rory Kockott and Steve Meyer.

Centre Adi Jacobs, who has recovered from his hamstring injury, could also take over from Waylon Murray, who was quiet in the pre-season friendlies.

Plumtree also has options at lock, where new signing Gerhard Mostert could partner Johan Muller.

The Sharks coach has five Springboks vying for the three front-row berths: Beast Mtawarira, Deon Carstens, Bismarck du Plessis and Jannie du Plessis as well as Bok and Sharks captain John Smit.

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