Unam Rugby tells players to toe the line… ‘stay away from NRU activities’

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek – Despondent players of the University of Namibia (UNAM) Rugby Club are up in arms in protest over the club’s decision to ban them from participating in any events under the banner of the embattled Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) – be it trials for the national team, or any other activities.

Unam management sent out a sent out a stern warning to its players recently, cautioning all playing personnel to keep a healthy distance from all NRU-related activities.

The NRU has extended an invite to all local rugby players born between 1997 and 1998 to attend trials for the national Under-20 team slated for the 28th of this month at Hage Geingob Stadium.

Namibia’s Under-20 side is set to participate in the Rugby Africa Under-20 Cup in April and in the World Rugby Junior Trophy in Uruguay in September.

The recent communiqué between UNAM RC’s management and the disgruntled players, which was leaked to New Era Sport, reads as follows:

“Dear players, it has come to our attention that some UNAM players are attending practice sessions at the NRU. You have all been informed of the situation why we temporarily withdrew from all activities of the NRU.

“The ones who are found guilty of this practice will likely have to explain themselves within the next 24 hours. This is just to remind you that you are contracted to UNAM Rugby and should abide by the decisions made by the club’s management, a resolution that has also been approved by the Dean of Students and UNAM Legal Department,” reads the letter in part.

It further states that should the players fail to adhere to the request, drastic measures will be taken.

“We are also aware of the players who attended the Sevens camp and all guilty parties will be dealt with accordingly,” concludes the strongly worded letter, signed by chairman of the Unam rugby club, Werner Jeffery.

“It goes beyond any comprehension as to how the Union can call up players to national trials without the approval from their respective clubs,” remarked a keen observer of the game, who requested that his identity be withheld for fear of reprisals.

“Legally, the players are affiliated to the club and not directly to the union, meaning the union has no jurisdiction over the players. Any call-up to the national team, or trials must first be communicated with the clubs, since the players are contracted by the clubs and not by the NRU,” they noted.

The souring relationship between the embattled NRU and the Group of Concerned Clubs stems from a number of grievances tabled by nine of its affiliates, accusing the NRU of of misconduct, including allegations of maladministration, preferential treatment of certain members, financial irregularities and a failure to adhere to the its own constitution and statutes.

The nine aggrieved clubs are Western Suburbs, Kudus, Reho Falcon, Dolphins, Keetmanshoop Rugby Club, Pandas, Rehoboth Rugby Club, UNAM and NUST.

The clubs notified the union on October 6 last year of their decision to withdraw from all activities under the jurisdiction of the NRU until their grievances are fully addressed.

The concerned clubs also called into question the legality of the recent NRU Annual General Meeting, which they vehemently contest, claiming it was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, New Era Sport has established that the dispute has been referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources and Community Development of the National Assembly for further intervention.

After a thorough study of the complaint, the Standing Committee decided to engage the services of legal guru Norman Tjombe to investigate the allegations.

However, New Era Sport is reliably informed that the Standing Committee has been dragging its feet and is yet to put shoulder to the wheel, due to the lack of funds to cover the legal costs.

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