Super Rugby

Ex-Bok, WP prop calls for Wakefield to step down

Thelo Wakefield (Gallo Images)
Thelo Wakefield (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok and Western Province prop Keith Andrews has called for Thelo Wakefield to step down from his position as president of WP Rugby.

The WP Rugby Union has well-documented financial issues and with the Stormers struggling in Super Rugby, pressure is mounting on the top brass of the union.

The Stormers’ 52-31 annihilation at the hands of the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend left them in a precarious position.

The Capetonians have won only three of eight games this season and are 11th on the overall standings and 12 points behind the Lions in the South African conference.

In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Andrews said Wakefield should do the honourable thing and resign.

“Wakefield should ultimately be held accountable because he is the head of the organisation. In terms of on the field, the Super Rugby season is effectively over for the Stormers after their hiding against the Lions in Johannesburg last Saturday. I believe it’s back to the drawing board for 2019. It’s time for some changes from top to bottom because the union simply isn’t performing optimally,” Andrews said.

“Off the field, WP Rugby finds itself in a diabolical situation. Rugby in the Western Province is in a drastic state, with crowd attendance figures on the decline and court cases against the union still running. The team is also not winning and, unless you’re winning, the bottom line is that you don’t get bums on seats. Wakefield, the failed president of WP Rugby, needs to step down!”

Andrews also questioned the authority Wakefield exerts over Stormers director of rugby Gert Smal.

“He (Wakefield) does not have the acumen to correct the union and, if he is still there in two years’ time, the union will be in exactly the same position. I can’t see it changing at all. I also wonder how director of rugby Gert Smal feels about not being backed by his president. It really irritated me when Smal selected John Mitchell to succeed Eddie Jones, only for Wakefield to veto the decision after hearing from the likes of Kevin de Klerk and Oregan Hoskins.”

Andrews continued: “The sad thing for me is when a president doesn’t believe in his director of rugby and goes over his head. Smal is technically the man who should be in charge of appointments and player recruitment. However, at WP you have the president stepping on his toes, which is unacceptable. Wakefield hasn’t played rugby at a high level, yet calls all the shots. Owing to the Mitchell non-appointment, there must be a confidence issue between the two men. Gert is an astute rugby man and, still to this day, I feel sorry for him that he was not backed by his president.”

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