Incoming WP vice-president lambasts media, says third forces at play

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Ronald Bantom (Gallo Images)
Ronald Bantom (Gallo Images)
  • Ronald Bantom, WPRFU's vice-president-elect, has come out in support of Zelt Marais, the union's president, in claiming WP is being undermined by "outside forces". 
  • The veteran administrator said that reports of infighting are inaccurate and accused the media of being sensationalist.
  • Last weekend, Marais penned an open letter to the union's constituents adopting a similar view.

Ronald Bantom, the Western Province Rugby Football Union's (WPRU) incoming vice-president, has come out swinging in supporting colleague Zelt Marais' view that the union is being undermined by outside forces.

The veteran administrator, particularly at junior level, sent out a stern media statement in his own capacity on Monday, bemoaning how "third forces" are attempting to paint a picture of chaos at boardroom level when, according to him, affairs are being conducted in an orderly fashion.

He also criticised the media for publishing leaked information.

READ | WP president: Union has been devastated by an unknown person within its own structures

"Such matters will not be sensationalised through the media and through other agents that are keen to see such negative media coverage of the Union," Bantom said in his statement.

"Over the last couple of weeks, the media have been flooded with news articles pertaining to alleged friction and infighting at Western Province Rugby Union. 

"All the internal affairs of the union will be dealt with by the union as the union has well developed processes and structures that governs its affairs."

Bantom, who is the sole nominated candidate for the vice-presidency at next week's Special General Meeting of the union, made a prominent return to the WPRU in December when he was elected onto the executive committee.

It proved an interesting twist given that he lost a court case against the union after being prevented from contesting in 2018's election due to being suspended for not attending a disciplinary hearing.

Bantom had been involved in heated discussion with Jessie Claasen, a then SA Rugby Legends official, which was the basis of the suspension.

Bizarrely, his statement also contained a paragraph complaining about the use of his photographs on media platforms "without permission".

"Ironic enough, my name and my photos have been widely displayed in these reports without my consent," he said.

"I am, have been and will forever be a loyal and committed rugby supporter in whatever form. Any attempts and plans to either tarnish my standing in rugby or my persona, will never succeed."

In an open letter to WPRU's clubs at the weekend, Marais wrote that the union has "been bedevilled by unknown person or persons, from within its structures unfortunately".

*It was previously reported that the discussion between Bantom and Claasen was allegedly racial in nature. Bantom was also reported to have been involved in a separate incident. This was erroneous and has been corrected. Sport24 apologises for the error.

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