Cape Town - The chief executive officer and director of rugby of Western Province Rugby, Paul Zacks, has met with contracted players to dispel weekend media reports alluding to an imminent clear out to cut costs.
"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,” said Zacks.
“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,” he said.
Netwerk24 reported on Sunday that the union was willing to negotiate the release of 19 players, either on loan or to sell them.
The list includes hooker Scarra Ntubeni and lock Chris van Zyl, WP’s captain in their victorious Currie Cup campaign of 2017 and utility back Craig Barry.
The Afrikaans website added that the list had been sent to several South African unions.
Ten players are available to leave immediately, while other nine only after this year’s Currie Cup.
The WP Rugby Union has been struggling financially in recent times and is under pressure to cut its budget.
The union owes investment company Remgro an amount believed to be about R44 million.
Remgro came to the WP Rugby’s rescue when it was set to be liquidated at the end of 2016.
There were rumours last week that WP had sold Newlands in an attempt to cover its debt, but this was denied by the union’s president Thelo Wakefield.
WP's business arm was placed in final liquidation by the Western Cape High court in 2016 after the union was slapped with an R276 million lawsuit by Aerios for reneging on an advertising rights contract with the company.
Aerios recently confirmed it would challenge WP’s liquidation in court while it planned to proceed with suing the union for breach of contract.
Zacks confirmed that the union are preparing their defence of the Currie Cup which will get undeway mid-August.
"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. We believe that we have an exceptional player base that is capable of delivering more success during this year’s Currie Cup campaign," he said.
Western Province kick off their campaign on August 25 when that take on Free State in Cape Town.