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Ken Borland

Bulls winning trophies almost monthly, but Strauss as proud of club rugby 0

Posted on May 19, 2022 by Ken

The Blue Bulls Rugby Union seem to be winning trophies on an almost monthly basis these days and, although that was the focus of a tweet chuffed president Willem Strauss sent out last weekend, he says he is equally proud of the growth in club rugby that has occurred since he was first elected in 2018.

A major reason for the growth is that the Bulls have actually provided opportunities for club players to graduate into the professional system, and their professional players are also integrated within the club structures. A dozen have played Carlton League matches and the more senior figures are also allocated a club for which they are ambassadors.

The alignment of their professional and amateur structures has been complemented by the expansion of the Carlton League and the introduction of an U20 club competition. Some serious money has been allocated to club rugby.

It has proven that a healthy structure at amateur level will contribute to success at professional level, with the trophies for the Currie Cup, Super Rugby Unlocked, SA Rainbow Cup, SA U21s, U20s and U19, as well as the Varsity Cup, currently residing in Pretoria. Tuks face an anxious weekend as they look to hang on to the latter title when they take on Maties in the final at Coetzenburg on Monday.

“In order to make progress, you always need a very holistic approach and we have also made a point of looking after our clubs and schools,” Strauss told The Citizen in midweek.

“Our clubs showed in the Easter Rugby Festival last weekend that they are definitely the best in South Africa. I am as proud of the growth at club level as I am of the professional trophies.

“We have 23% more players at that level now compared to last year. And we are also making our clubs more community-based, they go and coach at the primary schools in their region.

“The growth of the game at club level is as important as at professional level and we want to continue that pipeline, giving us a broader base,” Strauss said.

When Strauss became president in 2018, the Bulls had not won a trophy since 2010 and their players were more like rentals than contracted employees as they left Loftus Versfeld in droves. There was also the scandal of then high performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg’s fraud and theft from the union.

“We had no trophies at all, not even a junior one, which was scary,” Strauss admitted. “It all started with a plan which everyone bought into. We had to separate professional and amateur rugby, but get the structures aligned.

“We had the right stakeholders in Johann Rupert and Patrice Motsepe and we made the right appointments in director of rugby Jake White and CEO Edgar Rathbone.

“We also had cash flow problems and I was very worried about being able to turn things around. The first three years were tough, but it was not just me who did it, I have a very good board and directors.

“Once we had laid the foundations then new deals started coming through. But all the teams have the same salary cap and spend about the same. The key was getting our structures right, having a high-performance programme and having a world-class CEO and coach,” Strauss said.

With those firm foundations in place, the Bulls can only attract more investment, especially if they manage to seal the deal in the United Rugby Championship and earn a place in the European Champions Cup.

Dr Eugenia in hot water with CSA & sponsors 0

Posted on September 17, 2020 by Ken

Controversial Cricket South Africa independent director Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw’s tweet which appeared to threaten sponsors Momentum has landed her in hot water with the sports federation apologising to the financial services provider, distancing themselves from her statement and reporting her to their Social and Ethics Committee.

Momentum announced on Tuesday that they will not renew their sponsorship of men’s one-day cricket with CSA next April, but will honour their contract as title sponsors of the national women’s side through to April 2023. Kula-Ameyaw then sent out a tweet on Tuesday night saying: “Momentum forgets that we invest hundreds millions in Momentum in our SOE investments and pension funds. I remember asking for the BBBEE certificate in my other board. Just check before you make any irrational decision.”

Kula-Ameyaw erred in casting aspersions about Momentum’s transformation credentials because they have had Level I B-BBEE status for the last two years. And her antagonistic approach to sponsors could be seriously damaging to CSA as they desperately try and find new backers during these tough economic times. Given the Board’s existing lack of credibility and now this social media blunder by someone who is tipped to become the Lead Independent Director, even though she was only appointed to the Board on an interim basis in May, more current and prospective sponsors are likely to say getting involved in cricket is not their cup of tea.

“CSA sincerely apologises to Momentum for the unfortunate and unwarranted tweets made by one of our Board members, in her personal capacity. CSA wishes to reiterate that Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw did not act in her professional position as a non-executive board member of CSA. While we respect the personal views of all South Africans, CSA wishes to distance itself from the articulations made by Dr Kula-Ameyaw on Twitter.

“We further wish to reiterate that CSA does not ascribe to the views expressed regarding Momentum and we sincerely value the benefits Momentum and all our sponsors bring in making cricket accessible and inclusive for all South Africans. We thank Momentum for the substantial contributions they have made towards cricket upliftment and the milestones we achieved through their sponsorship,” acting CSA president Beresford Williams said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The CSA Members Council, which has been flexing its muscles against the Board of late, has also reported Kula-Ameyaw’s behaviour to the Social and Ethics Committee.

“CSA is taking this matter very seriously and in light of the reputational damage potentially caused, CSA’s Members’ Council has referred the matter to the Social and Ethics Committee and once all internal processes have been completed, the necessary corrective action will be taken,” the statement said.

Momentum were also baffled by Kula-Ameyaw’s jibe at their transformation efforts.

“We’re not exactly sure what Dr Kula-Ameyaw meant by the comment, since we have been working really hard to transform as a company. We achieved Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment status two years ago, and have retained this status. Our B-BBEE certificate is available on our website.

“In spite of the comment, we are not reconsidering our relationship with CSA. We look forward to continuing our support of the Momentum Proteas national women’s team on their journey to success,” Head of Sponsorships Carel Bosman said.

Kula-Ameyaw has also in the last week on Twitter accused critics of “brown envelope tendencies”, praised the EFF and seemed to indicate she wielded “power” by interfering in selection matters.

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