The “Empire” strikes again?

May 16, 2006
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The saga of the Spears continue. Not only did the Force now join the “Empire” against them, but it was also confirmed that the CEO of the franchise has been suspended by the board of directors of the Spears.

McKeever CEO of the much talked about franchise received a fax signed by Aldy Meyer, chairman of the board of the Spears, informing him that he has been suspended with full salary from 6 May 2006 pending an investigation into alleged irregularities.

The alleged irregularities are, among others, unauthorised expenses, unauthorised communications to SA Rugby and the media and neglecting to provide financial statements after a request by the board of directors.

McKeever in response insisted that these allegations were unfounded and that it is just part of SA Rugby’s plan to suffocate the Spears. “First they forced us out of the Super 14 series; now they’re trying to get us out of the Currie Cup and they’re forcing the board of directors to suspend me,” he told News24.

McKeever also said that it is quite ironic that he has been suspended with pay, as he last received a salary in March this year.

McKeever has been denied access to the offices of the Spears and will be allowed to make a written representation to Meyer should he feel his human rights have been violated.

Force joins the “Empire”

The Golden Lions and Blues Bulls have replaced the Southern Spears as the Western Force’s opponents on their post-Super 14 trip to South Africa – with the South Eastern Cape franchise (Spears) now clearly slipping into oblivion.

RugbyWA has revealed their plans for what they call an “exciting and action-filled” post-Super 14 rugby program, highlighted by a match against Manu Samoa in Perth on Saturday 8 July.

But it is noteworthy that the Lions and Bulls are top of a fixture list that initially had the Spears pencilled in. But since the Spears’ dramatic slide from South Africa’s franchise in waiting to a cash-strapped, embarrassing burden for the country, the Force turned to other South African teams to meet their requirements.

The clash with the powerful and entertaining Pacific Islanders (Samoa) will come after a 14-day tour to South Africa, where the Western Force XV will play three games against Currie Cup teams and run a skills clinic in the township of Soweto, in Johannesburg. The name of the third South African team still has to be confirmed.

In July and August, the Western Force XV will also play Japanese clubs, Toshiba and Yamaha in Perth before the start of the Australian Provincial Championship in September. The Japanese teams will also play Perth Gold and an Western Force Academy selection during their WA tour.

The post-Super 14 team will be known as the Western Force XV and will represent the State, playing in the traditional black and gold colours of WA. The team will be coached by Western Force coaching coordinator, John Mulvihill, with the assistance of forwards coach, Ben Darwin, skills coach, Tom Fearn and Academy coach Steve McFarland.

Players available for selection in the Western Force XV include those members of the Western Force not involved in national representative duties, members of the Academy and Perth Gold players.

He said individual post-Super 14 programs had been tailored for each member of the professional squad and some players would be unavailable for selection in the Western Force XV at certain times because of surgery or rehabilitation.

Mulvihill said the games in South Africa, against the Golden Lions and the Blue Bulls, would be hard-fought contests, which would provide valuable experience.

The touring squad will be announced on Wednesday, 17 May.

Mulvihill said the match against Manu Samoa would be a highlight of the calendar, not only for the players but for WA rugby fans.

“The Samoans are very physical but like the Fijians and Tongans, they throw the football around and play some of the world’s most entertaining rugby,” he said. “It will be the first time the Western Force plays a national side, so it’s quite an honour.”

Post-Super 14 program:

  • Wednesday 7 June: TBC.
  • Saturday 10 June: v Golden Lions (Johannesburg)
  • Friday 16 June: v Blue Bulls (Pretoria) Saturday 8 July: v Manu Samoa (Perth) Saturday 15 July: v Toshiba (Perth) Saturday
  • 12 August: v Yamaha (Perth) Saturday
  • 19 August: v Yamaha (Perth)

Australian Provincial Championship:

  • Saturday 9 September: v NSW A (Perth)
  • Saturday 16 September: v Qld Red Heelers (Perth) Saturday
  • 23 September: v Brumby Runners (Canberra)
  • Sunday 1 October: v NSW A (Sydney)

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17 Comments

  1. avatar pietploos says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 7:11 am

    And I asked hom so nicely yesterday…I guess that is why he did not answer me.

    And the next question – when will all this unauthorised expenses in the SEC region stop.

    And what did he else did he lie about……

  2. avatar The Bulls Are Better says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 7:36 am

    “The Japanese teams will also play Perth Gold and an Western Force Academy selection during their WA tour.”

    Obviously the Force have all their correct structures in place. For a team that is not even 6 months old to have an academy side is impressive.

    Good on ya Force!

  3. avatar Donner says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 9:04 am

    BTW, I was in two minds on teh use of the word “empire”. My first choice was “Teachers” but that just seemed to humourous for the article.

  4. avatar Rasputin says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 9:34 am

    It should be strongly pointed out though that there was nothing devious about the Force’s decision to change opponents.

    They waited as long as they feasibly could before being forced to look further afield for other matches to replace the Spears games.

    All pretty sad really.

  5. avatar Ollie says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 9:45 am

    PP,
    You have become judge and jury with a verdict before the truth has come out. Don’t you think it might be wise to see what the outcome is before making judgement?

  6. avatar pietploos says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Ollie,

    I have been involved in SA Sport (and not only rugby) for much too long to not know ( and realise) how things work – and in most of the cases pan out……….:!:

  7. avatar True_Blue says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Sorry about that Tony Mac, but I guess my earlier comments about your reasons for involvement in the game were closer to the mark than most posters here gave me credit for at the time.

    Hate to say I told you so, bit I did. Rememeber where you heard it first…

  8. avatar pietploos says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:38 am

    TB – I missed that one – please give it again.

  9. avatar Aldo says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:39 am

    What’s this of another strike? First it’s the security guards, then the metrorail strike, now Star Wars? What is this world coming to?

  10. avatar pietploos says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:41 am

    More Aldo!

  11. avatar Aldo says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 10:43 am

    More PP, hoe lyk dinge in Stalin, ag ek meen, Stellenbosch? Lekker koud?

  12. avatar Kandas says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Spears in call for money from fans

    By Derrick Spies – EP Herald

    AS DIVISIONS within the Spears rugby franchise deepen, beleaguered chief executive Tony McKeever yesterday confirmed he had been suspended but was pushing ahead with a campaign to garner financial support for legal action against SA Rugby.

    “I do not recognise the suspension. In terms of the Companies Act it is unlawful,? he said.
    McKeever said he would launch a “Save Our Spears? campaign, in which members of the public would be asked to make financial donations towards the legal costs the Spears would incur when taking SA Rugby to court to contest being kicked out of the 2007 Vodacom Super 14 competition.

    “I have dedicated a year of my life, 18 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure the Spears are a success. Why would I stop now??

    McKeever also raised concerns about the Spears’ participation in the Currie Cup competition, saying SA Rugby was trying to sideline the Spears to make way for the Griquas, thus avoiding a major legal battle.

    Griqualand West Rugby Union (GWRU) has threatened to take legal action against SA Rugby to have the current Currie Cup format, which will see an eight-team Premier Division format including the Southern Spears, overturned.

    It was decided that the big five – Blue Bulls, Lions, Cheetahs, Sharks and Western Province – along with the Southern Spears, be entrenched in the Premier Division. The remaining nine provinces – Pumas, Falcons, Boland Cavaliers, Griquas, Griffons, Mighty Elephants, Leopards, Border Bulldogs and Eagles – have to qualify for the remaining two places through their participation in the Vodacom Cup.

    Southern Spears chairman Aldy Meyer confirmed that McKeever had been suspended with full pay on May 6 – a day after a high-powered delegation from SA Rugby met the Spears board.
    “But the visit by the SA Rugby delegation had nothing to do with his suspension,? he said.

    Meyer said he was not prepared to discuss the reasons for McKeever’s suspension until the “relevant processes? had been put in place.

    McKeever scoffed at the notion of being suspended with full pay, saying: “My salary is effectively paid by SA Rugby, and SA Rugby has not paid any of the Spears’ administration staff their April salaries, which is tantamount to economic victimisation.?

    McKeever said he had been suspended for unauthorised communication with SA Rugby and the media, not forwarding financial statements to the board and arranging games between Kenya and Namibia which had not been sanctioned by the national body.

    “The reasons given cannot be supported. I sent out correspondence to all our board members on a daily basis, including issuing financial statements. I cannot be held accountable because other people do not open their e-mails.?

    EP Rugby Union representative on the Spears board Freddy Makoki said he did not believe McKeever’s suspension was warranted.

    “He has taken the Spears from nowhere to where they are today – he has done a good job and must come back,? he said.

    When asked about McKeever’s suspension, SA Rugby deputy president Mike Stofile said he was “not surprised?.

    “The meetings we have had with the board have made it clear that they were not on top of business, that only one person seemed to know what was going on, and that if things continued in such a fashion they would be in trouble,? he said.

    Stofile said he was still “100% behind? the concept of having a franchise in the province, and that he was “rolling up his sleeves? to ensure that there would be a “formidable rugby force? in the Eastern and Southern Cape in two to three years’ time.

    “It is not the franchise itself that we oppose. The decision to establish a franchise in the Southern and Eastern Cape still stands, but the circumstances in which the franchise finds itself are just not acceptable to us. It is just too deurmekaar,” he said.

  13. avatar Ollie says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    Kandas,

    I especialy like the last 4 paragraphs. really is good comedy material.

    “Rolling up his sleeves” – BWAAHAHAHAHA – to get his hands further into the gravy train maybe

    “The meetings we have had with the board have made it clear that they were not on top of business, that only one person seemed to know what was going on, and that if things continued in such a fashion they would be in trouble,? – HAHAHAHA – care to specify what exactly it was they were not on top of, Mike?

    The man should have his own comedy puppet show on tv.

  14. avatar Rasputin says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Stofile “rolling up his sleeves” should be enough to make any sane person shudder with dread.

  15. avatar Rasputin says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    The best thing Tony could do right now is to throw open the Spears financial books to the media.

  16. avatar Ollie says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    Ras,

    With comparisons to other franchises books

  17. avatar Donner says:
    May 16th, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    All of this actually comes down to one thing. LEGAL GAMES.

    Make sure you discredit the other guy before he gets the chance to do it to you. The board of the Spears would have known about everything and is now looking for a culprit. They need one to ensure they keep in SA Rugby’s good books.

    Tony however did make it easy for them. Lets hope he does have the evidence to support his claims. Sent items, delivery reports, etc.

    If he does and all expenses were approved by the board, well then they sit with a huge problem. Even if they were aware of it, it will be a problem.

    Tony’s biggest problem however will be if there is any truth to the reports that the board decided not to take legal action and he went ahead in direct contravention of such a decision. That he will not be able to explain away, because the decision would be minuted.

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