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By Derek Alberts
Reaction to the appointment of political heavyweight Ebrahim Rasool to the hot seat of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) has been met with polite silence by the rugby establishment.
Rasool, a former premier of the Western Cape and the South African ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2015, was named as the new chairman of Western Province at a board meeting earlier this month.
His appointment, announced by Rugby365.com, to arguably the most powerful position in WP rugby barely raised a ripple in what previously would have evoked cries of political interference and overreach.
According to the president of the union, Zelts Marais, Rasool’s appointment was unanimous to hint at behind-the-scenes manoeuvring in the interests of unity.
The country’s oldest provincial rugby union has suffered a series of bruising clashes in an internecine power struggle, some of the acrimony motivated by the controversial sale of its iconic home stadium, Newlands.
Judging by the conciliatory tone of the Marais’ message, WP is putting its faith in a fresh start for the beleaguered union.
Rasool would start his tenure immediately and would bring with him a wealth of experience, said Marais.
“We are looking forward to harnessing the experience and networks of Ambassador Rasool to the benefit of WP Rugby, and we are confident his appointment will help usher in an exciting era for WP Rugby. He is a rugby man through and through,” said Marais.
In his reply, Rasool drew on his roots in non-racial rugby, his commitment to unity with transformation, and his love of WP Rugby.
“It is a deep honour and an exceptional challenge to accept this post. The Western Cape is undoubtedly the cradle of rugby in South Africa, and we must nurture rugby from grassroots – the clubs and the schools – to the professional – the Stormers and our Springboks,” he said.
Rasool succeeds Johan van der Merwe who had served under extraordinarily difficult times, compounded by the Covid-19 lockdown, said Marais.
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