Cape Town – DHL has denied that it threatened to withdraw as the Stormers’ headline sponsor if assistant coach Paul Treu was not relieved of his duties.
“DHL is a committed sponsor and partner of WP and the Stormers. We remain in contact and keep supporting WP to create a platform for success. All team management and player issues fall within the mandate of WP Rugby,” Megan Roper, DHL’s head of marketing for Africa south of the Sahara, told Netwerk24 on Tuesday.
This follows a report earlier in the week that Stormers players held an emergency meeting chaired by captain Siya Kolisi with DHL, who seemingly then gave an ultimatum to remove Treu from the system.
There was also a report that the union’s president Zelt Marais wanted Treu to replace Gert Smal as director of rugby.
Smal told the Afrikaans publication that there was also no sign of a proposed player strike.
The Stormers are however yet to confirm their coaching staff for this year’s Super Rugby competition, with Treu’s role in particular unclear. He was the subject of much controversy towards the end of 2018 when he accused the Stormers coaching staff, led by head coach Robbie Fleck, of discrimination.
An independent review cleared Fleck and the management team of any wrongdoing, but it seems now that the relationship between Treu and his colleagues has soured.
WP Rugby, meanwhile, released a press statement on Tuesday stating that the Stormers players had met with leadership the previous day.
Attending the meeting were Marais, deputy president Moneeb Levy and CEO Paul Zacks as well as Smal.
Zacks said that the immediate focus was on the upcoming Super Rugby campaign and ensuring the Stormers were well prepared.
“The meeting between senior leadership of Western Province Rugby and Stormers players on Monday was constructive and it is encouraging as we are all committed to the future well-being of our professional teams,” Zacks said.
“While it is unfortunate that there was some misinformation in the public domain, we are confident of making meaningful progress to ensure that the Stormers and team management have the best chance of success in the 2019 season and beyond.”
Zacks insisted that WP Rugby had the full backing of all major sponsors.
“We have got incredible sponsors who have stood together with us through thick and thin without exception.
“Given the quality, depth and experience in our current playing squad, we are excited about what we can achieve this season and are all looking forward to what the possibilities are for the Stormers in 2019.”