As the maxim goes: 'It never rains but it pours.'This certainly rings true for the South African Rugby Union.
In the midst of a predicament over their handling of the Southern Kings' entry in Super Rugby, it has emerged that for the past 16 months SARU have been at loggerheads with one of their most prominent contractors.
SARU has become accustomed to fighting legal battles, but this one has been dragging on for nearly 16 months.
This website can now reveal, exclusively, that SARU is facing the possibility of legal action from a former contractor - BMT Sport Solutions, which was contracted to supply media and communications services to the Springboks from 2008 until after the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
At the heart of the dispute between SARU and BMT is claims of a "breach of contract" and the matter could still end up in court if it isn't resolved in the near future.
The Managing Director of BMT, Anthony Mackaiser, had since October 2008 been the Communications Manager of the Springbok team - as part of the terms set out in the contract.
Mackaiser, or rather BMT, claim outstanding payments from SARU for two issues:
1. To pay the balance of the contract, which was in effect until the end of 2011 but was unilaterally altered in November 2010 and later terminated by SARU in February 2011 with no reasons provided and without a performance review having taken place;
2. Outstanding win bonuses from 2010.
It is believed SARU has agreed it will pay the bonuses, but has yet to agree on how it will settle the remainder of the BMT contract.
While it is a fact that Mackaiser accepted employment at SANZAR in Sydney last year, after the fall-out between himself and SARU became protracted, he nevertheless declared a dispute with SARU. He has since resigned from SANZAR to pursue other interests.
His contention is that the contract is held by BMT to provide communications services, and does not state that those services must be performed by Mackaiser. Therefore, after he joined SANZAR, he did offer SARU a senior person for the balance of his contract - to work on communications projects, whether it was with the Springbok team or within SARU.
He contends that he was prepared to honour his side of the contract, but they weren't interested and tried to treat him with dull torpor.
His lawyers then instituted proceedings against SARU.
The matter has been dragging on for 16 months and SARU has failed to come to an agreement with BMT's lawyers over the settlement of the balance of the contract.
Mackaiser's departure from the Boks appears to have its origins in the infamous Bees Roux saga, when then coach Peter de Villiers embarrassingly blurted out to the whole world that the national team supports the prop forward - who later admitted to killing a Pretoria policeman.
It is believed Mackaiser was hung out to dry, although it is commonly known that De Villiers was almost uncontrollable - despite being advised (by
Mackaiser) not to speak publicly on the matter and being repeatedly warned by his bosses over a series of discomforting and flustering public utterances.
The BMT boss became a convenient scapegoat and De Villiers escaped serious censure - event though some SARU officials were keen to axe him.
While SARU had hoped the sorry mess would quietly go away, Mackaiser has stood his ground and the matter could escalate to court action if the national body doesn't resolve the matter soon.
By Jan de Koning
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