A tale of broken promises
A young Australian rugby player has revealed the full extent of the deceit allegedly practised by Cheeky Watson and the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) in contracting players for the Kings under false pretences.
James Hilterbrand, a 26-year-old hooker trying to break into the mainstream of professional rugby, was signed by the Kings in November 2015.
He claims his contract was concluded by Watson in his capacity as the head of multiple bodies forming part of the EPRU and the Kings.
Hailing from Adelaide, a backwater in terms of rugby union, Hilterbrand made his way from South Australia to Sydney to join Manly, one of the country’s top clubs.
He managed from there to get an opportunity at Western Force and his next port of call was Edinburgh in Scotland, where former Springbok assistant and Kings coach Alan Solomons was in charge.
He was instrumental in getting Hilterbrand an opening at the Kings and he signed a one-year Super Rugby contract with Watson and the Kings.
He travelled to Port Elizabeth in November 2015 and began training with the Kings. But on November 31, his salary did not materialise.
In spite of numerous promises, he was not paid by the Kings, the EPRU or EP Rugby, the union’s professional arm.
Hilterbrand is back in Australia and jobless – because Super Rugby and other professional teams have already confirmed their squads for the 2016 season.
He is one of 18 players waiting to hear whether the money they’re owed – a collective award by retired Judge Frank Kroon following an arbitration hearing of some R12 million – will be paid by today’s deadline.
If not, Hilterbrand has confirmed that he and the other players who are now out of contract will sue for material breach of contract with the intent to liquidate the province’s rugby union.
BETTER TIMES Tom Youngs of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by James Hilterbrand of Western Force in 2013