South African Rugby League

Date: 22/5/13

SASCOC send out a communication to all the regional sporting federations this week stating that none of them are allowed to give membership to the regional Rugby League Federations. The main reason that SASCOC gave was that SASCOC, and affiliated sporting bodies, is only allowed to recognize one national sporting body per sport, and that SARU is the only official National Sporting Federation for Rugby. Section 6.1.7 was quoted, but conveniently the following two sections of the same Main Clause was left out:

Clause 6 Membership

The members of SASCOC will be:

6.1.2 National Sports Federations affiliated to other major international Federations governing sport presently not included in the programme of the Olympic Games

6.1.5 National Sports Federations, not included in 6.1.1, 6.1.2 and 6.1.3, but who sports are practiced in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and the forthcoming All Africa Games

SASCOC seemingly forgets that rugby league and rugby union are two different sports, governed by two different international federations, with two separate World Cups, and acknowledged by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Three very important facts seems to be continuously ignored by SASCOC, either due to political reasons or else sheer incompetence and ineptitude to fulfill their roles and to promote the main aim of SASCOC (“The main business of SASCOC is to promote and develop high performance sport as defined in the National Sport and Recreation Act, No 18 of 2007 in the Republic of South Africa…”), namely:

1. Rugby league has been recognized as a separate sport since 1895 when it went professional and the Rugby League International Federation is acknowledged by the Commonwealth Games Federation as the international controlling body for rugby league worldwide. In fact, the following countries seems to have no confusion on the matter: United Kingdom, France, Italy, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Serbia, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Papa New Guinnea, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, Canada, the United States of America, Lebanon, Morocco, Ghana, Zambia, Germany and Jamaica to mention a few. South Africa has been a fully-fledged member of the RLIF and is in fact one of the founding members.

2. SARU stands for South African Rugby UNION, and SARL stands for South African Rugby LEAGUE. SARU has even gone on record to SASCOC clearly stating that rugby league is recognized as a separate sport by SARU and the IRB and that SARL cannot, by virtue of it being unconstitutional, be affiliated to SARU. The only similarity between Union and League is that the field is a rectangle (different markings), the ball is oval (different designs) and both games are 80 minutes in duration (different scoring). There are no other similarities, not even in scoring or the rules and application of the rules.

So by insisting that the two sports affiliate, SASCOC is in direct contravention of their own Articles of Association, namely Clause 7.2 that states: Member’s constitutions and any rules or regulations thereunder shall not be in conflict with the constitution of their international body, IOC Olympic Charter and/or the Constitution of SASCOC.

3. Rugby League was recognized by the South African Sports Council until the establishment of SASCOC, and since the aim of SASCOC, by it’s own admission is the following:

“4.1 To assume those functions relating to high performance sport which were carried out by the following controlling bodies before the establishment of SASCOC:
4.1.4 South African Sports Commission
4.4 to encourage the development of sport for all
4.6 to take action against any form of discrimination and violence in sport”

As such SARL fails to see on what basis SASCOC can firstly refuse recognition to South African Rugby League and secondly, expect the regional federations to act in accordance with an illegal instruction.

Since SARL, the RLIF and the CGF have contacted all the relevant role players in SASCOC, and have been met with continuous resistance, or else just been ignored, the only logical deduction would be that either SASCOC’s main board is taking instruction from other parties, or that the board of SASCOC has a hidden political agenda, or that the board of SASCOC is incompetent with such a lack of knowledge that they do not even realize that rugby league has been a professional sport internationally for more than a hundred years.

The Rugby League International Federation and South African Rugby League have approached the Commonwealth Games Federation with a request that the Commonwealth Games Federation explore the option of imposing sanctions against South Africa because of the discriminatory actions of SASCOC. The matter is also being brought before the Council for Arbitration in Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. These actions will adversely affect all sports and participants in sport in South Africa, and only because SASCOC steadfastly refuses to acknowledge rugby league, and continue to act in a discriminatory manner on no legitimate basis at all.

We urge all regional sporting federations to stand up against the constant bullying of SASCOC, and to start promoting sport and activity in their regions for all sport, regardless of race, religion, or sex. We also urge the media to become involved and expose instances where hidden agendas prevent South Africans from an opportunity to be able to compete in an internationally recognized sport, and to be able to represent their country at the highest level.

Documents Provided to SASCOC:

1. Letter from Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, confirming that SARL cannot affiliate to SARU and that rugby league is a separate sport
2. Letter from Mike Hooper, CEO of CGF, confirming rugby league’s Category 3 Status as well as confirming that the CGF recognizes the RLIF as the international governing body of the sport
3. Letter from Scot Carter, Chairman of the RLIF, confirming South Africa’s status as a Full Member of the RLIF
4. Letter from Tubby Reddy, CEO of SASCOC, instructing federations to not recognize rugby league as a sport