First on EWN Sport: Cheeky Watson to step down as EP Rugby President

EP Rugby has also been hit by a wave of problems over the course of the last few years off the field.

Eastern Province Rugby President Cheeky Watson. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The embattled President of the Eastern Province Rugby Union, Cheeky Watson, is set to step down from his post by the end of May, EWN Sport can reveal.

Watson refused to be drawn on the subject when contacted, saying simply: "I can neither confirm nor deny that because there's an agreement that SA Rugby, with the administrator and the Chairman, are the people that would focus on any media releases."

His provincial deputy though, Mr. Freddie Makoki, confirmed that was indeed the case with news on his exit imminent.

"I'm aware of that. While it's not official, I've heard from him, because I'm close to him as his vice-president but I think that will come [the announcement of him stepping down] when the rescue plan is in place."

Makoki went on to pay tribute to the positive strides Watson had made in the region.

"Remember what the man has done for this province in terms of bringing Currie Cup, Super Rugby and the (PE) Sevens."

The union has also been hit by a wave of problems over the course of the last few years off the field which will ultimately see it likely going into business rescue at the end of May. That's a result SA Rugby stepping in and appointing Monde Tabata as an Administrator to run the affairs of the union to expedite saving the enterprise, having also previously taken control over the running of it's Super Rugby franchise, the Kings.

SA Rugby indicated that they've managed to secure a prospective sponsorship deal with an equity partner, which will likely see the union stave off liquidation and prospectively pay off its creditors, including a large number of current and former players.

It's believed that Watson's decision is borne out of growing increasingly disillusioned with the persistent problems in the region including the increasing negative media spotlight.

Most recently, there were ugly scenes at the delayed AGM with some of those wanting to attend denied entrance and claims that a vote of no confidence in his Presidency would be tabled. That didn't come to fruition as it didn't garner the requisite number of backers to be even tabled.

When contacted with this development, despite Watson pointing enquiries of him to SA Rugby, a spokesperson said they were not aware of him intending to step down from his post.