Springboks against Wales in Washington still on despite question marks

26 April 2018 - 17:11 By Craig Ray
South African Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
South African Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

The Springbok Test match against Wales in Washington DC will go ahead as scheduled despite a report out of Britain suggesting the fixture is in jeopardy because of poor ticket sales.

The Daily Mail reported that the company staging the match – Rugby International Marketing (RIM) – was on the brink of financial collapse.

The newspaper added that ticket sales had been poor for June 2 clash scheduled to be played at the 46,000 capacity RFK Stadium.

RIM need to sell 27,000 tickets to break even.

But both SA Rugby and the Wales Rugby Union (WRU) have distanced themselves from the report.

A SA Rugby spokesman said: “We’ve not heard anything about the match being cancelled and we are looking forward to playing Wales in the USA in June.”

The report also suggested that both SA Rugby and the WRU had agreed to reduce their guaranteed fee for the fixture from R12.3 million each to R9.25 million.

SA Rugby did not comment on the financial aspect‚ indicating that it was media speculation.

The WRU also rejected suggestions the match would be cancelled.

"We are looking forward to playing South Africa in Washington DC on June 2 as part of our 2018 summer tour‚" a WRU spokesperson said.

"Beyond the contracted game‚ we have a number of local activities planned during our week in the US and we're confident the team will be great ambassadors for Welsh rugby."

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus meanwhile continues to prepare his team for the clash and the three-test series against England‚ which immediately follows.

He conceded that logistics would be tricky by playing Wales in the USA a week before the home series against England‚ but that the match was necessary for two reasons.

“One is for SA Rugby to make a bit of money‚ which help keep our players here by making a few bucks there‚” Erasmus said.

“The other reason is to have another Test before Rugby World Cup 2019. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare the team‚ so having one extra match where we can experiment a bit is good thing.

“I spoke to the Welsh coaches at a recent World Rugby meeting and they will probably use the match to experiment as well.

“Wales have been together under the same coach [Warren Gatland] for years and they know one another really well.

“The two challenges‚ Wales and England‚ are totally different. We lost by two points in Cardiff last November‚ but we were 14-0 down after a few minutes due to tries scored from two cross kicks.

“It’s all well and good picking a side that can score tries for Washington‚ but we have to consider whether the players can handle the aerial game‚ or the rush defence they employ‚ under defence coach Shaun Edwards.

“There are specific challenges when facing Wales and with England there are other challenges.

“England play the suffocate and strangle game‚ which Eddie Jones coaches well. At altitude they have tactical kickers like Farrell‚ Brown and Ford‚ which can make it a high-paced game.”


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