SA Rugby announce new domestic sponsor against backdrop of financial loss
After recently declaring a R23m loss for the last financial year‚ SA Rugby delivered some good news on Wednesday with the announcement of low cost airline FlySafair as its official domestic carrier.
The deal will last three years with an option to renew‚ replacing SA Rugby’s previous arrangement with SA Airways‚ which ended in December.
During the last financial year SA Rugby lost R130m in sponsorship revenue after banking giant ABSA pulled out of renewing its lucrative deal with Springbok rugby at short notice in 2015.
The parties are currently in arbitration to come to a settlement. “The arbitration process is still on-going‚” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander told Times Media Digital.
“We will take that process to the end because we signed off on the deal – there are branded jerseys that were made. We will follow the legal process to the end.” ABSA have maintained silence on the issue.
Lack of sponsorship‚ unions and player insurance cost SA Rugby millions Paying R60 million more annually for player insurance and image rights as well as a whopping R336 million to keep the 14 provincial unions afloat are two reasons SA Rugby announced a R23.3 million loss in the last financial year.
Last year a spokesperson responded to a TMG query with a one line statement: “Our contract came to a natural end and we cannot comment on anything beyond that based on the contractual agreement.”
But the deal with FlySafair sends out a positive message for rugby at a crucial time. Alexander and chief executive Jurie Roux also confirmed that more deals would be announced shortly.
“It’s great to have a new sponsor in FlySafair but the good news started in December last year with our governance restructure which has kick-started our turnaround‚” Alexander said.
“We lost R130m worth of sponsorship last year and took a lot of hard work to keep the losses down to R23m while managing to keep the ship afloat.
Boks set for tough 2019 World Cup draw as rankings finalised The Six Nations is over and‚ as expected after their calamitous 2016‚ the Springboks have dropped to seventh on the world rankings‚ which means they face a potential ‘group of death’ at Rugby World Cup 2019.
“We have turned things around and will be signing up with some key new sponsors. They are not small sponsors‚ they are big corporates.
“The plan is now to stagger our sponsors as well‚ so the deals don’t all expire after a World Cup year.”
Roux didn’t shy away from why financial results appeared so poor. “We lost a major sponsor at the 11th hour with two other smaller sponsors and left us in a R130m hole.
Those kind of sponsorships take 18 months to negotiate and we couldn’t rescue it in a year.
“People are upset with the fact that we called the loss ‘satisfactory’ but the reality is it could have been a lot worse.
“We have firm offers on the table for a new Springbok sponsor and we need to find the one that is a good fit.
“We will make an announcement on that soon and the Boks will have a new sponsor before June.”
Rugby attempts to bring the sport as close to a seamless global calendar as possible World Rugby‚ the game’s governing body‚ announced a revised playing schedule on Thursday that will bring the sport as close to a seamless global calendar as it can under difficult constraints.
FlySafair will be responsible for making sure that players and officials get to games on time‚ a task the airline is confident of achieving‚ given its ranking as the most punctual airline in South Africa‚ according to stats published by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)‚ said Elmar Conradie‚ FlySafair CEO.
“It’s absolutely humbling to think that less than two and a half years ago we were a small airline with two aircraft operating between Johannesburg and Cape Town‚” Conradie said.
“Here we are today with a fleet of nine aircraft‚ servicing the largest domestic route network of all low-cost carriers‚ and receiving the honour of being entrusted with the air travel of one of our national treasures: the Springbok Rugby Team.”
- TMG Digital/TMG Sport