To add to Eastern Province Rugby’s woes, referees in the the province are not being paid for their services.
Eastern Province Rugby Referees’ Society said that they would continue to work for the “love of the game going on” despite not being paid by cash-strapped EP Rugby to referee rugby matches.
At the Port Elizabeth High court on Tuesday it emerged that SA Rugby were facilitating and working on a sponsorship deal with a potential equity partner, worth R80 million to save the embattled EP Rugby from liquidation.
The union subsequently asked for a postponement so they may file papers for a business rescue application. EP Rugby will essentially have to motivate to the court how the business rescue will take place in order to have the union saved from permanent liquidation.
Lawyers representing provisionally liquidated EP Rugby are expected to submit a business rescue application to the PE High court on May 24.
Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday, EP Rugby Referees’ Society chairman, Jacque Hugo, said that EP Rugby would usually pay a stipend to referees per game, however, he confirmed that referees had not received any payment since the end of July last year.
“The stipend would range between R75 to R100 a game, referees for top games would receive R150 per match. A travelling allowance for petrol costs were also paid if referees travelled outside Port Elizabeth or Uitenhage to places like Graaf-Reinett and Cradock,” said Hugo.
All in all, 120 referees had been severely affected and if they chose to referee a game they were doing so purely for the sake of the game continuing. Hugo said they wanted to keep rugby alive for the province.
He added that rugby matches were not always easy and there was always a chance of physical and verbal abuse.
“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.”
Hugo added that the EP Rugby Referees’ Society were not employees of EP Rugby, so in essence the organisation had no contract to fall back on.
“EP Rugby were suppose to make payment as a token of good faith or a gesture, it is unfortunate but we understand that they are going through a difficult time,” he said.
He added that it was difficult for the young referees who were unemployed or contract workers and depended solely on the stipend as an income. He said that many of the referees also did not have cars, so it made it difficult to travel to matches.
– Africa News Agency