South African teams to continue participating in the Super Rugby tournament
SA Rugby chief executive officer Jurie Roux says South African teams will continue to participate in the Sanzaar-sanctioned Super Rugby tournament.
With the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs cut from the tournament‚ South Africa's participants have been reduced to four while a decision is still being awaited in Australia as to which team between the Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels will face the axe.
The Kings and the Cheetahs have joined the Pro14 and they will be making their bows next month while the current Super Rugby broadcast deal ends in three years time.
The Springboks were also beneficiaries of a three-year associate sponsorship with FNB with a value of around R20m per year.
“If you think about Sanzaar‚ we've participated in the tournaments for decades and they've been good to us and we've been good to them‚" Roux said.
"We'll still continue to participate in Sanzaar-sanctioned tournaments.
"We are as strong as we are because of playing the Australian and New Zealand teams.
"It's also about how we participate‚ when we participate and the options that are available. It's about having the opportunity to create more platforms.
“We can never have eight franchises in Sanzaar‚ that's impossible. We can have four‚ maybe five or even cut to three.
"At least we now have option for our players to have a platform. We could possibly add or reduce teams. We have options but we still need to play New Zealand and Australian teams because they make us strong.
"If you want to be the best‚ you must play the best. I don't see that relationship ever ending.”
Roux said the organisation isn't quite out of the woods financially even though the MTN and FNB sponsorships have gone a long way to cushioning the blow left by ABSA's departure two years ago.
Having suffered a loss last year‚ Roux said it will take them another 18 months for them to recover from their financial blow.
Roux was also not too concerned by the Kings' lack of readiness for the Pro14 tournament and the cloud that surrounds the status of Deon Davids's contract
“We are sleeping a lot easier now because of the fact we've got some financial support.
"If you think about the Springboks‚ there are a few rights that we still need to sell and hopefully we'll be making an announcement in the next seven days or before the August 19 test against Argentina in Port Elizabeth.
“The Kings have a squad and most of them reported for training.
"We'll have a training squad ready but one must bear in mind the company was under liquidation and until that was pulled‚ there wasn't much we could do.
"It's going to be tough in the first year as was the case with Super Rugby but the one thing about their management team is that they've gone through this before and they did pretty well.”