The department of sport, recreation, arts and culture (DSRAC) has come up with a R4.2m lifeline to help the liquidated Border Bulldogs get back into the rugby limelight.
The lifeline will see the team take part in the SuperSport Challenge and the Currie Cup B Division competitions later this year.
“In 2018, the general public learnt with shock that Border Rugby Union was facing serious challenges in terms of administration and compliance with South African Rugby Union [Saru] prescripts and policies,” Dsrac MEC Bulelwa Tunyiswa said. “The matter became a subject of discussion on various platforms, with some calling for government intervention,” she said.
Tunyiswa said Saru had confirmed that Border Rugby had indeed been suspended from playing over the past two seasons; this included participation in national competitions by the male men’s rugby senior team (Border Bulldogs) and attendance by the executive in all (Saru) constitutional meetings.
“In January 2019, a process of engagement between DSRAC, Buffalo City Municipality, Saru and Eastern Cape Sport Confederation(ECSC) started to gain momentum and, as a result, DSRAC started to take the lead in negotiating with Saru to re-open the window of participation by the Border Bulldogs.
“Saving Border Rugby would save young players from being rugby ‘migrant labourers’ as the absence of a team would mean that they must go to other provinces to have a chance to play,” Tunyiswa said.
The coaching staff were still on the Saru payroll, which meant that Saru was still incurring expenses regarding their salaries.
Tunyiswa was joined by SARU Saru executive member Monde Tabata and Dsrac senior manager Bafundi Makubalo.
Tabata said Border Rugby were not attracting sponsors and suffered dry seasons without getting enough sponsors and it owed SARS lots of money.
“You can never run a club without sponsors. Two-thirds of the budget should come from sponsorships,” BRU suffered a fiscal clinch,” Tabata said.
DSRAC senior manager Bafundi Makubalo said the players were in good shape to participate in upcoming events, as some of them were part of the team that won the Eastern Cape Super 12 Rugby competition last month, and others were currently playing in the Gold Cup.
Border Bulldogs scrumhalf Bangi Kobese said the past six months had been tough, but the players have been pushing hard.
“We were told to keep fit, as there were plans to get us back into playing again. We are really grateful in what the government is doing for the team,” he added. , we will make sure that we represent the province well in the upcoming competitions,” Kobese said.