Namibian rugby at the threshold… clubs demand transparency

by Carlos Kambaekwa

Namibian rugby at the threshold… clubs demand transparency


The war of words between disgruntled local rugby clubs and the National Rugby Union (NRU) has intensified to another level. The nine clubs, predominantly made up of athletes of colour, resolved at a recent emergency
gathering to sever all ties with the embattled union until such time their grievances are addressed satisfactorily.

At the centre of the storm is the apparently shoddy fashion in  which the union’s patchy finances are being administered, besides other unresolved pressing issues, ranging from maladministration to preferential treatment towards masterfully selected affiliates.

New Era Sport is in possession of a copy of discussions between the two parties conducted via an electronic dialogue, which contain damning accusations and counteraccusations willingly thrown at each other. A brief analysis of the discussions brings one to conclude that the genuine bone of contention is more the union’s reluctance, inability
or rather lack of transparency in revealing the true figures of NRU’s expenditure/income.

In a strongly worded response the aggrieved party accused the union’s acting chief executive officer Elizma
Theron of deliberately introducing red herrings into their plight.

“Our main issue over the past two years has been finances but you however seem to blame Government for this deplorable situation and instead fall short of mentioning monies received from the International Rugby Board
(IRB), including other sponsors, what it entails and how that has contributed to the situation.  “This comes at a very opportune moment, as there have been numerous discussions throughout the year on ways that the union can
involve and work together with our premier clubs in order to help further develop the capability and capacity required to grow the game in Namibia.”

Corrie Mensah, representing the aggrieved clubs, shot back that the NRU CEO is being economical with the truth.
“I only know of two such meetings, one between myself, Bradley Basson and Mervin Green two days after the AGM in March this year and another one between Basson and myself a few weeks later.” Mensah also took issue with
Theron’s misplaced interpretation of the union’s functions.

“Your reference to the following: … ‘on ways that the union can involve and work together with our premier clubs…’ At this juncture, I wish to alert you the clubs are the legitimate owners of Namibian rugby.

“We are the union and in the same premises, this is one aspect we have long ago sensed to be one of our major problems, as it seems the union only comprises of the Board and CEO.”

Theron adds that national team coach Phil Davies, S&C coach Wayne Proctor, and experts in the fields of performance analysis, sports physiotherapy and nutrition will visit Namibia to launch a new player welfare programme in conjunction with current staff members.

“The new model already presented to world rugby allows us to embark on a new meritocrisy styled program that focuses on and rewards clubs that strive to operate high performance and development programs.” However, Mensah is having none of that and wants to know at what costs.

“This clearly confirms our suspicion about the deliberate exclusion of clubs in the planning, decision-making, development and approval of the above launch and presentation.”

“Club involvement and support only come into play as an after-effect. Unfortunately don’t understand what
meritocracy means and can therefore not reflect any further on the program mentioned.”

Mensah is also questioning the rationale behind NRU’s resolution to host a gala dinner in recognition of former rugby players for their contribution towards rugby. “Knowing that our clubs are still marginalized and oppressed while our plight for justice is ignored, how can we go there and celebrate 74 years of oppression?” charged
Mensah. In his personal parting shot, the outspoken Mensah says as much as he understands the mooted
recognition is to bestow national colours upon those that played for NANRU, he wishes to categorically state that he is not interested since he already received NANRU colours at the time and remains extremely proud of those accolades. “As a result of the injustices that prevailed during the apartheid era, I did not play rugby for Suidwes
(SWA) and see this as an attempt to undermine and nullify the existence of NANRU, the fact that you want
to ‘replace’ my NANRU colours.”

Furthermore, Mensah dismissed  Theron’s response to the aggrieved clubs’ notice of 6 October as an insult to their intelligence. “This is nothing but a repeat of the defiant position the CEO and NRU Board maintained towards the
complainants’ concerns.”


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