Two of South African rugby's leading personalities announced their resignations, both blaming politics in the game for their decisions.

Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains said he was stepping down as coach of provincial side the Golden Lions with 12 months remaining of a three-year contract.

In a separate announcement Louis Luyt, controversial former South African Rugby Football Union president, said he was severing his ties with the same union at the end of the year.

The pair had been in opposing camps in a lengthy power struggle at the Lions for the control of player affairs.


Mains will remain as coach of the Cats - the regional Super 12 franchise which is largely based on the Lions - but Luyt is stepping down completely.

He announced he was also giving up his seat as an MP and moving from Johannesburg to a KwaZulu-Natal coastal resort.

Mains blamed "the management style of Ellis Park and their constant interference and undermining of the team" for his decision.

He said: "It has been impossible to maintain the focus, commitment and motivation to function effectively. Sadly, 2000 has been a traumatic experience for all of us at the Lions."

Mains did not name Luyt as the source of the interference.

However, the power struggle emerged earlier this year when Luyt admitted bugging the telephones of Mains and Lions chief executive Johan Prinsloo.

Luyt alleged the pair were involved in a conspiracy to take control of player affairs away from the trust of which Luyt was chairman.

Luyt said: "I am not prepared to be involved or associated with individuals who use petty personal vendettas and ambitions to further their rugby careers."

Mains and Luyt first fell out in 1995 when the New Zealand team coached by Mains walked out of a banquet after the Rugby World Cup final during a speech by Luyt.

Many observers were offended by Luyt's boast that South Africa would have won the first two tournaments as well had they not been excluded because of politics.

The relationship appeared to have been repaired when Luyt appointed Mains as Lions coach at the start of 1999.

Mains led the Lions to the Currie Cup title that year but saw his team knocked out of this year's competition at the semifinal stage on Saturday.