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Alexander promises Bok turnaround

06 April 2018 - 18:32 By Craig Ray‚ Cape Town
Mark Alexander.
Mark Alexander.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Reelected SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has promised a turnaround to Springbok rugby fortunes that will serve as a springboard for a boost for the sport.

The Boks have struggled for two seasons and in the past two years SA Rugby’s balance sheet has showed over R60m in losses.

Players continue to leave the country in large numbers while the majority of the country’s 14 rugby unions are battling financially.

Alexander outlined how the union had done a roadshow to woo corporate investors by outlining their strategies for rebooting the game – the most significant of those being cutting the number of professional players.

Alexander won reelection for another four yeas by seeing off the challenge of advocate Andre May from the Leopards while Francois Davids was reelected vice president.

“The Springboks are the shop window of SA Rugby and regardless of the good things we do‚ it’s the Springboks that people see and use to measure us‚” Alexander said.

“We understand and appreciate that but with Rassie in charge and a clear plan for Rugby World Cup 2019‚ we are on track.

“Rassie has an aggressive plan to turn things around and the board supports that plan fully. We understand though that the Boks winning again is what the fans want to see.

“We are working on a new contracting model because having 750 contracted full-time professionals in this country is just too much.

“We want to cut that in half and we are in negotiations with the franchises and MyPlayers [the player’s union] so that some of them become semi-professional.

“There is also a proposal for a better draft system so that a fourth and fifth-choice player at one union‚ could be used at another. We want our top players all playing somewhere every weekend‚ be it in Super Rugby or PRO 14.”

Alexander outlined that work on a plan to change the fortunes of rugby had been in place for some time but that it was a process that wouldn’t easily happen and that by being reelected had improved his mandate to drive some changes through.

“We embarked on a two-and-a-half year turnaround strategy and we are still busy with that process‚” Alexander said.

“Imagine if someone new was voted in today. We would be starting that process all over again and we would have lost momentum.

“We are on the right track and if we didn’t incur a lot of expenses bidding for Rugby World Cup 2023‚ we would be in a healthier state with approximately a R6m profit.

“In late 2016 we had a series of workshops with franchises was that all the basic skills and conditioning of players needed to be aligned so that when they come together as Springboks the process is easier.”