SA Rugby in new bid to stop Watson's return

Saru believes referees manager's reinstatement would cause an exodus of staff

03 August 2017 - 07:20
By Liam Del Carme
Andre Watson Picture: AFP
Andre Watson Picture: AFP

SA Rugby has applied for leave to appeal the Labour Court's order for them to reinstate former referees manager Andre Watson.

In July 2015 SA Rugby terminated Watson's employment following a CCMA ruling that followed an independent investigation into allegations that the refs' boss was "dictatorial, strict and abrasive" in his management style.

At the end of June, however, the Labour Court ordered Watson's reinstatement and SA Rugby has opted to appeal the decision.

"SA Rugby has applied for leave to appeal but I cannot comment any further," said SA Rugby's strategic communications manager, Andy Colquhoun.

Watson also dead-batted questions.

"My lawyer may be able to answer some questions, but I cannot," said Watson.

According to a source who did not want to be named, SA Rugby exercised one of only two options available to them following the Labour Court ruling.

"You can appeal the matter, or you can give Watson a payout," said the source, who immediately acknowledged that SA Rugby was in a financial squeeze.

"I really can't see how there was a way back for him," the source said of Watson.

"There will be no cohesion in that department.

"Besides, a Labour Court cannot force a company to take back an employee if there has been a breakdown in trust between the parties.

"You must remember that the Labour Court never found him not guilty.

"All it said was that it deemed the punishment too harsh and that he should have received a final written warning.

"The Labour Court didn't take into consideration the abusive language that he used towards fellow employees or the threats he made," the source said.

"It could become a drawn-out affair."

The source warned that Watson's return to SA Rugby would ruffle feathers.

"If he comes back there will be an exodus of officials because they believe he will victimise them.

"There are people who put everything on the line by testifying against him and they surely won't be able to work with him given their fear of being victimised," the source said.