By Carlos Kambaekwa
The National Rugby Union (NRU) finds itself entangled with its main sponsor MTC over intellectual property rights.
At the centre of the storm is the union’s announcement that it has teamed up with First National Bank (FNB) to bring the Western Province Rugby Fifteen for an international friendly against a Namibian Invitational Rugby Fifteen in Windhoek, next week.
MTC hit back and issued a media release authored by its General Manager for Corporate Affairs Albertus Oachumub, in which the giant telecommunication entity claims to have intellectual property rights to any team representing Namibian rugby at senior level.
The company threatened to seek legal recourse, if it has to, in order to protect its rights in terms of the provisions in the agreement between the NRU and MTC.
Aochamub said: “Whilst we agree that the national team needs to participate in a few games as part of its preparations ahead of major international events, it gives the NRU no right to violate its contractual obligations with MTC with impunity.”
The articulate Aochamub is adamant that any team representing Namibia is covered by this agreement, and the arrangement with FNB is a clear breach of that provision.
He further claims that MTC reserves the first option of refusal should any national matches be staged on Namibian soil, but the company was totally sidestepped with the game against Western Province.
MTC has invested a staggering amount of N$6-million in Namibian rugby – stretching over a period of three years and ending in September next year.
MTC further demonstrated its commitment towards the well-eing of rugby with an additional cash injection of half a million Namibian Dollars (N$500 000) to ensure the Namibian Rugby Fifteen’s participation at the Rugby World Cup finals in France last year.
Approached for comment on the burning issue, the Chief Executive Officer of the NRU Keith Allies hit back and said MTC does not have a leg to stand on because FNB is not a conflicting sponsor, as clearly stipulated in the agreement.
Thus, he charged, the NRU acted within its right to bring the financial institution on board as partners.
Allies added that the NRU’s only mistake was not to inform MTC about the arrangement as per agreement, but has in the meantime extended an apology to their aggrieved partners.
“After all, MTC has indicated to us that they would not be in a position to fund this particular match, so I just can’t make head or tail of the whole fuss,” concluded Allies.