Sharks strike exciting partnerships with Border and Pumas

16 February 2024 - 19:22
By Sithembiso Dindi
Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee during the United Rugby Championship match against Munster at Kings Park on April 22, 2023.
Image: Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee during the United Rugby Championship match against Munster at Kings Park on April 22, 2023.

The Sharks have announced two strategic partnerships with fellow South African rugby unions Border and the Pumas.   

While the partnership with the Pumas will be more on the commercial side, while the Sharks’ deal with Border Rugby Union, which will involve an exchange of players,  goes deeper in getting the side out of the doldrums.   

The partnerships were confirmed by Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee on Friday, and are expected to create excitement and hope, especially for the East London-based Border.   

This is a huge lifeline for Border which has helped to unearth some of the best rugby players who went on to become successful Springboks.   

However, the union has subsided due to the infighting and financial crisis that has beleaguered it since 2013.    

That saw Border spend at least four years under administration until 2022 and attempts to get the union back on track have not been easy.     

Confirming the deal, Coetzee assured that the Sharks are not an equity partner of Border, but this is a union set to benefit both sides and take the East London-based union back to where it used to be.   

“Today is a proud day because we are building on a heritage that’s been founded during Super Rugby days when the coastal Sharks comprised of the Natal Sharks, Border and Eastern Province,” Coetzee said.   

“The troubles that the Border union has faced have been well-documented in the last number of years.”   

Sharks’ first attempt to strike a partnership with Border was rejected in 2022 before the election of new leadership under the stewardship of president Zuko Badli.   

“The new leadership of Zuko and his elected leadership have got a vision that we can now officially and formally partner,” Coetzee said.   

“So today, we would like to officially announce the formal partnership that we have agreed contractually with the Border rugby union and the Sharks.   

“We went forward and back a lot on this, and I think the easiest way in our day could be to say, ‘we want to buy 51% of the company, give us control,’ and it wasn’t like that.   

“We started from the point of collaboration from the get-go, and I think what that means, Border is currently coming out of administration and has a real willingness to build this cradle of rugby in South Africa from the grass roots,” he said.   

“We want to partner at every single level with Border and this is what this agreement entitles us to do, to start with grass roots rugby, club rugby, the commercial side, re-establishing the company, financial controls and all the regulatory functions that a professional rugby side will need.”   

Badli expressed Border's excitement to get into this partnership with the Sharks.   

“It goes a very long way back if one would know the history of rugby, especially in the former Transkei and Ciskei,” Badli said.   

“It’s part of waking up the Bulldogs, if I may put it like that. We saw it proper that we need to have an equity partner but at this stage it’s not an equity partnership because we’ve got no shares to sell, we’ve got no Pty. We are just a union.”   

Badli said they’ve paid all the debts that were troubling Border and are ready to start afresh. 

Meanwhile, the Sharks will return to United Rugby Championship (URC) action on Saturday when they host the Stormers in a coastal derby at Kings Park Stadium on Saturday (5.05pm).