Africa-Press – Namibia. PETRI Theron and Johan Diergaardt have been elected as the new president and vice president of the Namibia Rugby Union following an extra-ordinary general meeting in Windhoek on Saturday.
Theron and John Walters had been elected as joint presidents at an extraordinary meeting at the end of April, after the previous board headed by Corrie Mensah resigned en masse.
They both received five votes from the 10 voting clubs who were fully paid up and in good standing. At the same occasion, Diergaardt and Wessel Kotze were appointed as joint vice presidents after both also received five votes.
It was, however, unconstitutional to have two candidates in each post, while it was also not accepted by World Rugby, which led to the second extra-ordinary meeting last Saturday to try and find a way out of the impasse.
Since the last election, four new clubs were accepted as members of the NRU and had voting rights, but after a new vote on Saturday, the posts were once again tied, with Theron and Walters each receiving seven votes, and Diergaardt and Kotze also receiving seven votes each.
After negotiations Walters and Kotze, however, withdrew their candidacies and stepped down, paving the way for Theron and Diergaardt to take sole ownership of their respective posts.
The other positions were ratified after being accepted at the end of April.
Christi Windvogel was elected as vice president of governance, while four regional representatives were also elected with Herman Rust representing Khomas, Apie Oberholzer (Auas), Collin Stevens (Erongo) and Johannes Erasmus (North).
The other board members are Ernest Groenewaldt, representing the Namibia Rugby Referees Society, and Ainsley Daniels, representing Namibia Secondary Schools Rugby.
The NRU on Monday issued a press release saying that the NRU council had acted in a compromising spirit to solve the impasse.
“Council resolved to act in unison and the best interest of rugby, and will endeavour to include the unsuccessful candidates to not lose their skills and abilities should they be willing and available. Council acted in a corroborative and compromising spirit to promote them in its goal to unify, strengthen and grow rugby as a strong federation,” it said.
“The president, Petrie Theron says that the time has come for the union to return to the values for which rugby stands: integrity, respect, honesty, good sportsmanship, and trust,” it added.
“Rugby should again become the bond between players that creates and builds long-lasting relationships upon which strong influences and cooperation can be established in socio-economic circumstances in our communities and country. Rugby should be administered in a transparent and accountable manner to keep all stakeholders, inclusive of the rugby public, informed on the progress and position of the Union. We have a responsibility to promote and protect our sport for the current and future generations to come. This will require dedicated and focused work which the board has all committed to,” the statement added.
Diergaardt said the parties had co-operated in the best interests of rugby.
“It is good thing that we could agree and put our differences aside. I think there were personality problems which made that difficult in the past, but for the sake of the game it’s important that we look ahead and make decisions in the interest of the clubs and the national team,” he said.
“After the four new clubs voted, the votes were still deadlocked at seven each, but we negotiated amongst each other and I think all the parties displayed a positive spirit and a willingness to take rugby forward,” he said.
Diergaardt said their most important task now would be to ensure qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“We simply have to qualify for the World Cup, and we can’t just aim to be competitive, we must now also start winning matches at the World Cup,” he said.
“We definitely have the players to qualify again. We also have top coaches and the processes are in place for them as they prepare at their Stellenbosch camp under national coach Allister Coetzee and I have full confidence in them,” he added.
With a few more players due to join the national training camp this week, Diergaardt said the competition for places will be very strong.
“From what I’ve heard, there is a great spirit at the training camp amongst the players and they are all keen to make the final squad, so it’s very competitive.
There are currently 35 players, but a few more will join them, including Aranos Coetzee and Louis van der Westhuizen from the Cheetahs, and Wian Conradie and Janco Venter from England. So there will be about 40 players fighting it out for only 28 places, and the competition will be fierce,” he said.