Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

SA Rugby has applied for leave to appeal against the Labour Court’s order to reinstate referees manager André Watson.

In July 2015, SA Rugby terminated Watson’s employment after a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruling. That was after an independent investigation into allegations that the refs’ boss was "dictatorial‚ strict and abrasive" in his management.

In June, the Labour Court ordered Watson’s reinstatement. SA Rugby had now applied for leave to appeal, its spokesman, Andy Colquhoun, said.

"I can’t say anything. My lawyer may be able to answer some questions, but I really can’t‚" said Watson.

A source who did not want to be named said SA Rugby had two options after the Labour Court ruling. "You can appeal [against] the matter‚ or you can give Watson a payout‚" said the source‚ who agreed SA Rugby was in a financial squeeze.

"I really can’t see how there was a way back for him‚" the source said of Watson. "There will be no cohesion in that department," the source said.

"Besides‚ a Labour Court cannot force a company to take back an employee if there has been a total breakdown in trust between the parties."

The source pointed out that the Labour Court had not found Watson not guilty.

"All it said was it deemed the punishment too harsh and he should have received a final written warning. The Labour Court didn’t take into consideration the abusive language that he used towards fellow employees‚ or the threats he made. It could become a drawn-out affair."

The source warned that Watson’s return to SA Rugby would ruffle feathers.

"If he comes back, there will be an exodus of officials because they believe he will victimise them. There are people who put everything on the line by testifying against him."


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