WP rugby at war with itself over Paul Treu 'axing'

03 February 2019 - 00:00 By CRAIG RAY

Western Province rugby is being torn apart as the professional arm of the union and elected amateur officials went to war this week, ostensibly over Stormers assistant coach Paul Treu.
The Sunday Times has verified from three sources that the Western Province Rugby (WPR) board, decided to implement an exit strategy for Treu following a meeting with a player delegation on Monday.
The board made the decision on Tuesday, but a day later the executive committee (exco) of the WP Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) - the amateur arm - demanded that Treu stay on.
It also demanded that Treu replace Gert Smal as director of rugby. Smal's contract expires at the end of October. The board refused and the exco threatened to declare the board illegal, presaging the potential collapse of professional rugby in the region.
One insider said the board "would not buckle". Another said that if the board were dissolved "WP would be an amateur union in a year".
The impasse began after a report last Sunday suggested that Treu, who was the Stormers defence coach for three seasons, was to become Smal's successor.
Last year Treu made allegations centred on discrimination and being undermined. An independent investigation, which cost the cash-strapped union over R600,000, cleared WPR office-bearers, players and staff of wrongdoing.
Monday's meeting between senior management and players was "positive, and the players were heard", said one source. The players were unanimous that Treu be removed.
Most of the union's players are out of contract from November. They are seeking clarity about the future management structures of the union. If Treu stays on, many will seek contracts overseas, or at other local unions.
There has long been unease between the exco and the board and Treu seems to be a pawn in a larger political game to gain total control of the union.
Dissolving the board would require a special meeting of the union's general council.
Once source said that sponsors had contracts with WPR (professional arm) and not the WPRFU. If the professional arm were disbanded, sponsors would legally be able to have their contracts declared null and void.
Another source claimed that there had already been eight suite cancellations at Newlands and that title sponsors DHL would walk away, although this could not be confirmed.
Despite repeated attempts for official comment, the WPR and WPRFU had not responded by the time of going to print.

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