PRETORIA – Multinational mobile telecommunications company, MTN, was on Friday spectacularly revealed as the new headline sponsor of the Springboks, ushering in a bright new future for South African rugby, said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
The South African-based African giant has agreed a three-year deal to back the national team.
The famous name will be carried on the Springboks’ playing jersey – starting on Saturday in Pretoria in the first match of the three-Test series against France – and was dramatically revealed at the team’s regular pre-Test photo-call in Pretoria.
Roux said that the agreement represented a pivotal moment for SA Rugby and that welcoming a company of MTN’s size and reach was a significant moment for the sport.
“We’re delighted to welcome MTN as our new headline Springbok sponsor,” said Roux. “They proudly carry millions of calls across the continent every day and we’re proud to carry their name on our jerseys.
“From the very first conversation we had with them they saw the power and potential of a partnership with the Springboks and SA Rugby way beyond placing a logo on a sportsman’s playing kit.
“They understand where we are as a sport and they want to partner with us in that journey of inspiring the nation.
“It has been a tough couple of years from a financial perspective for SA Rugby – and our challenges certainly remain – but this partnership marks the crossing of a watershed for SA Rugby.”
Enzo Scarcella, Chief Operating Officer at MTN SA, said: “As a proudly South African brand, we found it fitting to back the pride of the nation – the Springboks.
“MTN has been a long-time supporter of South African sport and this new sponsorship further entrenches our position as the ardent supporter of South Africa’s sporting ambitions.
“We will also seek to make both our customers’ and rugby supporter’s lives brighter by offering unique experiences and competitions that will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
“The Springboks are a national asset that resonates with millions of South Africans across the length and breadth of the country. This heritage mirrors the values of leadership and Can Do that MTN dearly espouses.
“We believe that sport in general and rugby in particular is a powerful instrument that can foster national unity and drive positive change. As a team and contact sport, there are a lot of positive attributes that we can learn as we continue on this journey of social cohesion and national reconciliation.
“It has been a race against time to ensure that all that needed to be put into place to make this agreement possible could be completed.”
Roux said that it had been a hectic few days and weeks to ensure the Springboks started the season with MTN on the team’s jerseys.
“I’d like to thank our new sponsor as well as our existing commercial partners for the way in which they have engaged with us on this process,” he said.
“I think everyone realised how important this deal was to South African rugby and the Springboks and they have helped us on our way.”
The agreement was finally concluded on Thursday. The new Springbok jersey had already been launched and distributed into the market, giving ASICS no opportunity to brand replica wear with the sponsor’s mark.
However, ASICS have assured supporters that they will be working around the clock with the aim of providing Springboks fans with the MTN-branded jersey for the start of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.