The South African Rugby Union initiated disciplinary steps against Luke Watson after it came into possession of a recording of remarks made by Watson at a function organised by the Ubumbo Rugby Club at UCT on October 3. 

The recording was provided to SARU after it was already in the possession of the media. In the light of the remarks contained in the recording, which have been widely reported in the media, SARU had little choice but to take the action it did.

SARU accepts the ruling of Nape Dolamo on November 11, who was appointed by it to conduct Watson’s recent disciplinary hearing, to the effect that his appointment was unlawful owing to a lacuna (gap) in the relevant regulations. SARU has also noted his observation that, although it is open to SARU to remedy the problem by amending its regulations, such amendment may violate the presumption against retrospective application of enactments.

SARU has also noted that Watson has never disputed making the remarks in question and in fact has recently been reported as indicating that the identity of the student who made the recording of his remarks is known to him.

However, SARU has decided that although it will have to amend its regulations in any event with a view to the future, on legal advice received it will not charge Mr Watson afresh in accordance with amended regulations.