Mike Stofile caught offside

South African Rugby Union (Saru) deputy president Mike Stofile faces tough questions after Saru’s audit committee found he had no mandate to discuss the future of former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer in South African rugby with him.

Stofile, who has serious ambitions to defeat incumbent president Oregan Hoskins at Saru’s presidential elections next month, met Meyer on January 22 in Johannesburg with Golden Lions president Jannie Ferreira.

Until now Stofile has insisted that he was given a mandate by Saru’s ­Presidents’ Council to meet Meyer, who was left without a job after being defeated by Peter de Villiers in the race for the position of Springbok coach.

Meyer has been earmarked for the newly created position of director of high-performance rugby and coaching. Former Springbok coach Jake White’s name has been mentioned in connection with the job, too.

Hoskins has vehemently denied Stofile’s version of events, arguing that the job should be advertised for anyone to apply and that Stofile was not mandated to discuss the matter with Meyer.

The Mail & Guardian has established that Hoskins’s version is closer to the truth. According to a report by Saru’s audit committee, “there was no mandate given to anybody to talk to Heyneke regarding this position in the meantime”.

The report was compiled by Griffons president Jan Marais and ­Eastern Province co-president Pat da Silva and distributed to the 14 union presidents and other Saru management staff.

Marais and Da Silva were charged with scrutinising the minutes of the Presidents’ Council’s meeting of January 9, where the position of director of rugby was discussed.
Their report quotes verbatim from the transcript and shows that, although Stofile was originally asked to speak to Meyer, the decision was later changed.

The audit committee concludes its report with the decisions on the position of a director of rugby: that such a position be created; that a job description for the position be created; that SA Rugby give an indication of money available for the position; and that Saru then decide whether to advertise or headhunt “with Heyneke Meyer as a possibility”.

Marais confirmed the report, but could not say what it means for Stofile or whether steps will be taken against him.

“It was our job to say what happened. We only give our opinion. It will be up to the disciplinary committee to take the matter further,” he said.

Apart from saying that he feels “vindicated”, Hoskins would not comment on the outcome of the investigation. He added that he favours appointing a director and took issue only with Stofile’s unauthorised meeting.

A Presidents’ Council source told the M&G that the Meyer meeting saga should be seen in the context of the coming Saru presidential election.

Rugby’s own succession battle between Hoskins and Stofile was, said the source, also manifested in the recent complaints to Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile (brother of Mike Stofile) about the renewed Supersport rugby deal and at a celebratory dinner for De Villiers in Cape Town, to which neither Hoskins nor vice-president Koos Basson was invited.

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