JOHANNESBURG – Six days after the players and staff of the Valke rugby team on Gauteng’s East Rand raised concerns about their salaries not being paid at the end of July, they have been told the rugby union is to be liquidated and they no longer have jobs.
Valke Rugby (Pty) Ltd said they were in “financial distress” and would not be able to pay their employees for July, or in future. The amateur arm of the Valke Rugby Union – which looks after club rugby in the East Rand – was not affected.
“It is with regret and great sadness that we have to announce that the professional arm of the Valke, is in financial distress and the directors of the company resolved that the company be wound up as it is unable to pay creditors and employees,” a statement from the company said.
“The coronavirus has claimed another victim, after the Global Rapid Rugby competition played in Malaysia was cancelled due to the ban on travelling and the revenue stream from license agreement was stopped. The Valke played in the competition and the owners of Global Rapid Rugby injected money into the company to pay the salaries of the players.”
The statement further said the Valke’s directors “deeply regret” the hardship caused by the liquidation, but said it was “unavoidable”.
The CEO of Sport Employees Unite, who represent the Valke employees, Piet Heymans, expressed his disappointment at the turn of events.
“We are hugely disappointed in the liquidation of the company. It has come as a big shock, with little prior notification regarding this. It has left employees and players in a very difficult position and resulted in utmost hardship for the employees. We will work with the liquidators, who’ll be appointed, and follow due process to ensure our members’ interests are looked after, to see how quickly and efficiently we can conclude this to provide some relief for the affected members.
Six of South Africa’s professional rugby unions, namely the Valke, Border, Boland, South Western Districts, Eastern Province and the Griffons, were recently “excluded” from participation in a new-look Currie Cup type competition which is set to get off the ground next month.
Big franchise teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers from Super Rugby, and the Cheetahs and Kings, from the Pro 14 – have been earmarked to play in an eight-team Currie Cup, with a final set for December, depending on SA Rugby getting the green light from the government to stage the competition. It is expected to take place inside a so-called bio-bubble, in one venue, and with strict control measures in place.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux recently said the smaller unions, like the Valke, had decided against playing in any competition for the rest of the year, because it would be too costly for those so-called First-Division teams. The Currie Cup Premier Division teams, said Roux, were in a better financial position to play in a competition in the latter stages of this year.