WP CEO Wagner hits back

2012-07-04 22:13

Cape Town – WP Rugby chief executive Rob Wagner has spiritedly defended the franchise against allegations that it struggles to retain its best talent in the face of interest from upcountry or abroad.

The long-serving CEO tends to stay mostly out of the public and media spotlight, but on Wednesday made a rare appearance, immediately following the regular Stormers team announcement briefing at Bellville, and then again on Cape Talk 567 radio station to fight the union’s corner.

There has been fresh criticism of the Stormers/Western Province over a perception that they “leak” young talent, just the latest being the case of Baby Bok schoolboy flyhalf phenomenon Handre Pollard, who has agreed terms with the Bulls.

In response to criticism that the province too readily develop young players and then let them slip through the net, Wagner said: “That is a perception, first of all. People rightfully do get upset when a talented player leaves.

“But in answer to that (charge) ... let’s just take a group of young players in our (Stormers) pack who have been identified by us and have come from school to our Institute, them graduating to the Super Rugby scene.

“I’m talking the likes of Kitshoff, Malherbe, Elstadt, Etzebeth, Kolisi, Carr, Roux ... if you take a group like that, I would hazard a guess that they are the youngest group of players at Super Rugby level who have come up through the Institute system.

“We have retained six of those on long-term contracts and only lost one (lock Quinn Roux, to Irish club Leinster). Operating in a professional rugby era, out-of-contract players have freedom of movement; there’s global competition for the scarce resource of pro players.

“Financial reward, opportunity to play at first-team level after it has perhaps not always been immediately possible where they’ve just (come from) ... of those players mentioned and certain others, it is a remarkable strike rate to keep such players who have already shown their worth in probably the toughest competition in rugby union.”

Wagner conceded that Pollard was “an outstanding rugby player who will go on to play at a very high level” and was a “big loss” to the province.

“It’s not through lack of trying: this goes right back to August 2010 when we dealt with the particular player (to discuss a contract).

“Many people are unaware that in 2011 we’d already invited him to Stormers practices to bring him into the structures, etcetera ... a lot of work went on behind the scenes to keep Handre in this province. We did everything in our power ... I can’t answer at this point in time precisely what influenced his decision to move north.”

At the media briefing, Wagner had displayed a pile of paperwork saying it was the sum of correspondence on the Pollard matter, much of it involving his father and WP officials like former Springbok lock Hennie Bekker.

“Western Province prides itself in its structures. I think our Institute is highly successful, and not as many players as perceived have actually moved on.

“People are probably thinking about people like Johann Sadie, who is currently in the wilderness and not in the Bulls side, another like (Conrad) Hoffman who is not in the Sharks squad environment.

“And consider also that we take players away from other provinces -- they try damned hard to keep them too!

“I’m talking fine players like Peter Grant, who the Sharks tried to keep, Joe Pietersen, who the Free State wanted to keep ... it goes both ways.”

 Wagner said it should not be forgotten that in 2011 the Stormers were tested like never before at flyhalf, where seven players were struck down by injury, yet they had managed to win the inaugural SA conference and reach a semi-final.

“This season, if you consider the quality loose forwards we have lost to injury – Burger, Vermeulen, Koster, Carr – we are still heading the conference and still on track for the playoffs.

“So you’ve got to think there’s a good case for saying we’ve identified our resources and depth correctly, isn’t there?”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 22:16

    Nobody with a choice wants to be there.

      lean.sadie - 2012-07-04 22:28

      Your so smart, how long did it take you to come up with that?' It's a professional era, you will lose more players too, just like everyone else. It happens, grow up. There are more things not even posted here.

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 22:34

      I came up with it the moment I read the headline. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

      Press - 2012-07-04 22:37

      Well Rob - why dont you tell your supporters what your medium term replacement strategy for PG entails and whose services you have procured for this purpose . . . to put all your supporters at ease . . .

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-04 22:40

      Herald, JOU NOOL !!! there's just no better word for you, otherwise, it just becomes vulgar .. what would possess you to say that, besides being a COW ???

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 22:47

      Nool, ha ha ha. When last have I heard that word?

      Taurus.Blue1 - 2012-07-04 22:48

      I can understand why the WP supporters don't think much of this guy: “People are probably thinking about people like Johann Sadie, who is currently in the wilderness and not in the Bulls side" Huh??? He is NOT left in the wilderness, he is INJURED you gogga!!! Furthermore, how can they claim they 'have developed Handre Pollard'? His talent is surely GOD given and not by the mercy and grace of WPRU. Oh dear, I think WPRU is in the worst possible hands. Why don't they just admit they have decided not to offer him a competitive salary, because that is what it boils down to, admit that and people will have more respect for you.

      Tom - 2012-07-04 22:55

      Habana hooked his brother up with a marketing job, maybe they couldn't do the same for th pollards

      gustav.petersen.3 - 2012-07-05 00:37

      @Taurus: God given talent yes, but raw talent needs to be developed! Seriously think that the WP coaching at current and lower levels has had no infleunce on his achievements/abilities and that the WPRU has no finger in the Paarl Gim pie??? Has Sadie impressed you in the limited times he was on the field? Think not, be that due to previous injuries, that is the wilderness.

      cobus.jooste - 2012-07-05 06:43

      @Taurus.Blue... the WPRU never claimed that they have developed Handre Pollard... If I may quote the article... "In response to criticism that the province too readily develop young players and then let them slip through the net, Wagner said: ..." How is that a claim from the union that we developed him??

      steyts - 2012-07-05 07:02

      Well they did develop him in some extent when he played for WP from u/13 right up till now where he will captain the WP craven week team... In those years they definitely would of had an influence on his development!!!

      Freddie - 2012-07-05 08:34

      It appears to be quite obvious the strategy they are following. Retain forwards as all the players mentioned are fwd's and let the backline players walk out the door as those mentioned i.e. Sadie, Pollard etc Now we have to import players from the likes of the Sharks, bulls and cheetah's. Dumb strategy if you ask me.

      john.comyn.18 - 2012-07-05 08:57

      Ya nee I'm sure they'd rather be attending pray meetings at Bulls training camps in PTA.

      john.comyn.18 - 2012-07-05 09:07

      @Taurus - You are spot on! You take a player when he leaves school and put him in a S15 side. All this stuff that they let Pollard train with the S15 squad is a load of BS. I'm sure Pollard's high school coach is way ahead of any of the coaches at the WPRU academy. Guys like Rassie Erasmus!. PS Sadie played 1 or 2 games & was dumped long before his injury.

      haydn.gawronsky - 2012-07-05 10:05

      Ummm Taurus... Sadie had been dropped from the Bulls 22 due to lack of form BEFORE he was injured. He got injured in training. Facts buddy, facts.

  • orrinf8 - 2012-07-04 22:27


      Press - 2012-07-04 22:34

      This type of shouting will soon develop into booiing at Newlands , , , , , ,

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 22:40

      It already has.

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-04 22:49

      nope, the 'BOOOOOO'ing is MAINLY for the 'all fern caps' at NEWLANDS ( IMO, oh, and maybe MS (if he misses his 1st kick, as always)). :)

      luke.sportify - 2012-07-04 22:49


      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 23:01

      Orrin, the booing is for everything anti-Stormers. Pathetic really.

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-04 23:23

      there's no anti-STORMERS at Newlands, Herald .. unless you're a 'cape maori' (still doesn't make sense ???) or a touring party .. PROVINCE !! 4 LIFE Herald, 4 LIFE !!!

      cobus.jooste - 2012-07-05 06:49

      Yes harold, then you have clearly not been at Loftus... funny how no-one says anything about a loftus crowd booing, but when a newlands crowd does it, it's pathetic.... I don't agree with it, but don't just blame it on cape supporters.... the last match I watched at Loftus was between the Bulls and the Blues.... the stadium announcer asked 3 times before the players ran onto the field not to boo the away team... well, as soon as the blues were showed on the big screen, the booing already started... so tell me again how this only happens in Cape Town?

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 07:36

      Cobus, it's funny that you only hear it on TV when it's at Newlands.

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-05 08:40

      it's called sound fx, Herald .. Duuhhh .. lol .. no, no, serious now, ANYWHERE in the world and this goes for any sport, if the standard of the game is not met, people are gonna get upset and 'boo' players off the field .. We set ourselves high standards that must be met by our sport stars, as they get huge salaries for entertaining us, so they BETTER NOT FAF AROUND as it costs us a fair penny to SUPPORT THEM, viz: tv subscriptions, ticket prices, merchandise, etc, etc, etc .. so if a sport star doesn't perform to standard, HIS ASS WILL BE BOOED .. just saying :)

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 09:16

      Orrin, maybe you should start booing your own players when they run onto the field and you kicker when he kicks for goal.

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-05 09:28

      no need for that, Herald .. I support THE MIGHTY STORMERS/WESTERN PROVINCE RUGBY, not some 2nd tier 'wannabe' franchise !!!

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 09:43

      Mighty union who hasn't won a cup for 11 years.

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-05 09:56


      Press - 2012-07-05 10:02

      Lets award the Stormers the Booing cup . . . .

      orrinf8 - 2012-07-05 10:16

      it will just add to the treble we'll be taking this year :) .. bring it, you haters, ONS STORMERS SKRIK VIR NIKS !! ONS STORM SAAM !!!

  • Jbyej Junaid Itaintaday - 2012-07-04 22:31

    jou lekka ding

  • stephan.cruywagen - 2012-07-04 22:35

    Rob Useless Wagner - Chase this idiot away please..this idiot has such strong hold on WP rugby for years and the "tlick" getting bigger and bigger...

      Russell Paschke - 2012-07-04 23:39

      Clearly you don't know the man! Rob, I played for UCT back in the days and clearly remember your enthusiasm and spirit. That was in the days of amateur rugby; I can only hazard a guess to what the stresses must be now with the advent of the professional era.

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 08:03

      Russell, being passionate doesn't necessarily make you a good administrator.

  • jonathan.february - 2012-07-04 22:49

    Heard a birdie whistle even the Stormers/ WP sponsors now wants to contract the Bulls. Robbi Wagnog pull up your socks.

  • kenjaymay - 2012-07-04 22:52

    How can anybody in his right mind swap life in Cape Town for life in Pretoria?....I mean how do you explain to your kids later in life that they could have bean brought up in CT! I would sue my parents if they had done that!

      Tankiso Mogoje - 2012-07-05 06:53

      Stop fooling yourself man,opportunities are up north.

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 07:01

      I can think of quite few, empty trophy cabinet, treacherous weather (they don't call it the Cape of storms for nothing) , the water is too cold to swim in, and last but not least that hideous monstrosity, called table mountain.

      bfvillet - 2012-07-05 07:10

      no way they swap the money in cape town for that in pretoria if you have nothing to offer,offer money ps they never stay they are only there for the money

      linkie.swiegers - 2012-07-05 13:51

      We cool the water down every holiday to make it unpleasant for unwanted moangat tourists. The ones that don't moan are deemed worthy. How's the water in PTA's ocean? "Lots of trophies" to move up north? Not the most convincing reason, I must say. What about the years that nothing comes in, like 2011?

  • Tom - 2012-07-04 22:55

    Thought lean was spending the day with his family. Lean back....lean back

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-04 23:16

      Lean on me.

      chaplinncharlie - 2012-07-05 02:57

      We are his family...No?

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 07:02

      His family had other plans

  • boereroo.jackman - 2012-07-05 01:11

    Cosatu also has a "good strike rate"

  • theunis.botha.96 - 2012-07-05 02:13

    It is all about-business and oppertunity.To realise where you will benefit and develop the most to your advantage and glory in the game.A longig to be moulded and shaped by only the best rugby gurus in persuit of perfection.Somehow,subconsiously some of the greater young talent in the South her'ently know they just have to answer to the call that exposes the gladiator in them..."Go North young man,go North".

      Claude - 2012-07-05 07:20

      The pendulum always swings.

  • yvettesteven.loots - 2012-07-05 06:35

    Nlks met julle rugby fout nie, maar daar bly. Jy maak seker n grappie.

  • bfvillet - 2012-07-05 07:06

    agree thing is there is just so much talent the player and his parents also have a say in this matter and WP cannot be blamed all the time but one has to be concerned when those long term contracts for kolisi etsebeth were only finalised at the start of this season while these players had already been to the WP academy if you send a player to the academy you should have some sort of contract with him.As for the merceneries up north that is the nature of rugby today however if the schools the universities and clubs in WP continue to grow rugby like they have the rugby machine will continue to produce quality players and many will decide to stay like we have seen this year

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 07:39

      Punctuation marks, please.

  • etienne.louw.9 - 2012-07-05 07:08

    as i understand, pollard left because his dad had already been speaking to the bulls about 2 years ago to give handre a contract. At that age if your dad is making the decisions it is difficult to turn against him. got lots of flyhalf talent coming through the ranks. Interesting to see Goosen, Pollard, Jantjies coming up. Bet my bottom dollar Pollard will get call up to Springboks soon as BlueBok coach Meyer will be ready and waiting to replace MS with another Blue Bok

      harold.lloyd.520 - 2012-07-05 07:40


      jc.burger.3 - 2012-07-05 09:38

      @ Etienne: True. People are harping on about Pollard, but they don't even know about one of the best young flyhalves in the form of Carel du Plessis son. I think in a couple of year's this Pollard issue will be proven to have been in the right. Just watch how the Bulls are going to stuff up his natural game.

      Press - 2012-07-05 10:05

      Is Carel du Plessis son small enough for the WP - otherwise the Bulls must go and get him . . .

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-05 11:50

      jealous of the bulls as usual

  • Claude - 2012-07-05 07:18

    Mr Wagner may be correct up to a point but from his position he can't very well say that they actually miss a large number of future stars and some of these have been remarkable players. Pollard is a case in point -- when did WP Rugby first make a meaningful approach to him and his parents and what sort of offer did they make to counter what the Bulls offered. If the Bulls offer was so much better than WPs in straight financial terms -- why? Can the Province not afford better or is it that the Bulls pay everyone more? All I can hope is that there is a workable plan afoot to ensure that this sort of thing is minimised in the future because if there is not then the executive are not doing there jobs and must go!.

      Neutedop - 2012-07-05 08:21

      Claude, WP invested in a guy called Timo Swiel. You will get a clip of him on Youtube. Bulls spend money on him since grade 10, in the form of gear, school fees etc. I am glad that practice will be stopped, as it is kind of like a mafia: We payed, now you owe us.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-05 11:51

      where was wagner born? is he province born?

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-05 12:23

      is he cape town CBD born!?!?!?

      pomene.stormer - 2012-07-06 06:47

      Surely being picked and playing for your province in all age levels even up to u/19 Craven week levels qualifies as "being developed" - or is that merely regarded as a given taking you were born in that region. Pollard made his choice whether he was eager to leave Province or his offer was unbeatable is of no relevance - the man is gone now lets concentrate on those who wants to play for the franchise - Grant,Francis,Catrakilis ,Van Aswegen,JP Du Plessis etc etc etc And I can assure all there are various young options not spoken about (obviously to protect them from other provinces !!) and they will come through the ranks sooner or later - watch this space !!!

  • agri.implements - 2012-07-05 07:23


  • cap.mor.5 - 2012-07-05 07:30 CRy babies. Oh yes, and it's choke time. Enjoy.

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 07:50

      Choking is the stormers art, and they are about to paint their masterpiece!

      Freddie - 2012-07-05 08:16

      Always sum bull chops waiting to thrive on anothers downfall. Still eating humble pie from the home and away defeats we handed to you this season?

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 08:26

      But pie gives me heartburn

      paul.sdoow - 2012-07-05 10:28

      all year its been choke time every match and yet still to see it. and with the wins over hard matches i doubt this year choke time will happen. the bulls however have managed to choke a ex matches that they should clearly have won.

      paul.sdoow - 2012-07-05 10:28

      all year its been choke time every match and yet still to see it. and with the wins over hard matches i doubt this year choke time will happen. the bulls however have managed to choke a few matches that they should clearly have won.

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 10:40

      No need to repeat your self

      paul.sdoow - 2012-07-05 15:35

      some times we have to tell some of the slower people everything twice.

      paul.sdoow - 2012-07-05 15:36

      some times we have to tell some of the slower people everything twice.

  • grant.butler.104 - 2012-07-05 08:06

    I fully uderstand and appreciate the challenges involved here.......BUT.....what irks me no end is the inability of Stormers management [ and I am not referring to A Coetsee here , but the actual Exco ] to structure loan deals effectively when crisis develops.....The failure over the last 3 cmpaigns to deliver on R Pienaar, B James, BJ Botha, F Louw, et al is something that Stormers must improve on.....Having to play 5 th choice flyhalves and 6 th choice loose forwards is skating on thin ice.... So far Stormers have got away with it.....but this is due to a fanatastc team culture more than anything to do with our Exco......Being a Stormers supporter does not mean avoiding the obvious failings which still exists in the set up....

  • Greg - 2012-07-05 08:06

    His not the first and won't be the last chaps!! Pity the WP let him go but in the end it's his, or his dads, decision. Hopefully he'll be in a green and gold jersey soon though!!

  • denzyl.ryklieff - 2012-07-05 08:13

    Should Pollard captain or even play for WP Craven week team now that it is confirmed he signed for the Bulls?

  • denzyl.ryklieff - 2012-07-05 08:15

    Should Pollard captain or even play for WP Craven week team now that it is confirmed he signed for the Bulls?

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 08:28

      We heard you the first time

  • Ashley - 2012-07-05 08:17 we'll see you in December STORM SAAM!!!

  • Berto En Petra Mostert - 2012-07-05 08:23

    Blue Bulls should develop their own young players. it is obvious that there are problems with development of players at school level in Pretoria!?

      kenny.liebenberg - 2012-07-05 10:14

      Hey Berto! The Bulls does not only consists of Pretoria WAKE UP! If the Stormers only consists of Cape Town players, then the whole Stormers team would go a AA meetings every day for drinking too much papsak!

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-05 11:56

      where were u born? where does your family come from? do u support holland in soccer? go back to europe u colonialist. thieves! disgrace! i'm ron burgundy???

      linkie.swiegers - 2012-07-05 14:02

      I was born in the Cape. My family comes from the Northern Cape/Cape Winelands. Yes, I support the Dutch team. No, I can't afford to "go back to Europe" and "go back" also implies that I have been there before, which I haven't. I love lamp...

  • dieter.muller.942145 - 2012-07-05 08:25

    WP sent Pollard a email .... it only said "KOM SIEN ONS" just like that! Stormers, with Wakefield and his fat tjommies, will be a mickey mouse franchise in a year or 2! mark my words!!

      pomene.stormer - 2012-07-05 09:25 ?????????????

  • sarel.strydom.967 - 2012-07-05 08:35

    Everyone is buying our young talented players and we buy all the unwanted players(with exceptions of course) from the other unions......

      maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-05 11:03

      Big schools poach top rugby players

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-05 11:58

      where was heyneke meyer born? colonialist pigs! thieves! disgrace! lets go back to where we came from and rugby would not be played and we would not be world champions twice!

  • pomene.stormer - 2012-07-05 09:24 WORTH READING !!!

      kenny.liebenberg - 2012-07-05 10:48

      Sounds like Pollard wants to run away from the WP rugby union! I do not blame him, the grass is always greener on the other side!

  • leslucy.gombart - 2012-07-05 10:02


      orrinf8 - 2012-07-05 10:20


  • henmich.maart - 2012-07-05 10:48

    What WP Rugby Union should do, is to offer these young talent a competitive deal, but if they still gun for more-let them go! If they stay and become influencial in the success of the union-reward them with a much better deal,without there agent have to come to the union first. If it is all about how much money they can get-first and for all-cut them loose! Too many players want a big pay-check,and still expect supporters to be patient

      pomene.stormer - 2012-07-06 06:50

      Exactly my friend exactly what is happening - this is what I want and if you don't pay........well I will go to the Bulls !!! Let them go HM says - let's only pick those who has a passion and really want to be part of the Province/Stormers culture - end of story !!!

  • paul.sdoow - 2012-07-05 11:04

    i hope in his contract he stated he would not wear pink? but hey maybe that's why vex have to pay so much to their players !

  • thilo.klingenberg - 2012-07-05 12:41

    Let's not get our knickers in a knot because Handre Pollard has decided not to stay. We have an abundance in talent in the Cape and if he doesn't want to play here then it is his choice. My concern with the process is the following: One, being that after more than 15 years of professional rugby, that unions developing yong talent are not rewarded when the player moves to another union at the end of his school career. Any player that plays in a provincial team should automatically be contracted to that union and should only be free to leave at the end of his school career if the union does not offer him a contract or decides to let him go (maybe he wants to study something at a university or college somewhere else). Two, a player like Handre should not be able to even sign a School contract (as his father called it - please Mt Pollard snr, explain to us how a school contrat is not a contratc and you can blatantly not tell the truth to WP and the press - is that an example to set for your son? Either a contract wsa signed or not and you admitted that in this case there was, albeit a "school contract") without his home union giving the OK. Here we have teh captain of the WP team, just deciding to leave and WP can do nothing. It is unacceptable in the day and age of professional sport and he should stripped of the captaincy - in actual fact they should drop him from the team because he has shown no loyalty and he and his family were dishonest about the process.

      pomene.stormer - 2012-07-06 06:52

      Amen !!

  • davidmullerattorneys - 2012-07-05 17:48

    Problem starts with Hennie Bekker who is suppose to be talent spotter.Wagner is beyond his expiry date.Time for new blood,someone that understands professional rugby and contracting.

  • - 2012-07-05 20:12

    It is not about a choice but how you are treated. If you request someone via e-mail " come and see me" what are you reflecting - I am taking the high ground!. Let me tell you about my experience - a coach asked a WP selector why didn't you invite Players - wing and flank to the Craven week trials -Selector answer because he will not make the team the wing from last year will be in the team again and don't want by players to get injured. (that was two positions a wing and a no 6 flank), will the wing (wp for 2 years) is not playing high level rugby any longer and the flank is playing for Griekwas. Two years down the road the wing (the one that was not invited) is invited to the WP sevens, he made the team and is told to be ready to leave on Thursday for PE tournament. On Wed PM he receives a call sorry but a player from Dubai is back and he will be in the team. That was AA, I will never support WP/Stormers ever again. That is why players don't stay, because they are being used all the time, I can continue with more examples, a prop today in France, a fullback, a centre all players disgusted by the way they have been treated.

  • waldo.nel.9 - 2012-07-06 16:02

    Pollard will enjoy kicking on the highveld, that is why he decided to go there. Simple...

  • mark.l.sherrell - 2012-08-04 20:14

    Rob Wagner should be relieved of his position. He has the final say at the end of the day when it comes to players bought, kept and released, and with the Stormers and WP failing on several occassions at crucial stages, heads have to roll, and why not start at the top. He has done absolutely nothing during his tenure.

  • Geoff Fisher - 2014-02-21 15:37


  • pages:
  • 1