Dwindling sponsorship in a harsh economic climate, rising costs and helping fund 14 professional provincial teams were among the reasons for the deficit.
A reduction of R130m in sponsorship included the withdrawal of a major South African bank as backers of the Springboks.
One possibility to increase revenue is playing an occasional high-profile Test abroad to boost the bank balance, as
“Within a four-year cycle, one year could be set aside to play the All Blacks aboard for the commercial good of domestic rugby. One would have to weigh the financial benefits against the fact that some of our supporters might miss a chance to watch the All Blacks in
“It would be a delicate balancing act,” admitted Roux about a proposal that could come into effect from 2020, when a global rugby calendar is introduced.
Roux said it was also crucial that the Springboks become a powerful force again after a disastrous 2016 season under new coach Allister Coetzee. The green and gold lost eight of 12 Tests – a Springbok record for a calendar year – and needed a late recovery to draw with a makeshift Barbarians team in
Coetzee has been given new assistants in Franco Smith (attack) and Brendan Venter (defence) for a three-Test home series against
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander, elected unopposed last year after Oregan Hoskins resigned, echoed the views of the chief executive.
“Our business fortunes are chiefly determined by one over-riding factor – the performance of the flagship team. The form last season of the Springboks was at its lowest ebb since rugby unity in 1992.
“The new era and new dawn we had all hoped for failed to materialise, but this year will be different,” he promised.
Roux said national, Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams who generated income deserved to benefit more from it. “Ideally, you want a situation where money earned by the Springboks goes to them, money earned by Super Rugby sides goes to them, and so on.”
SA Rugby received R640 million last year from broadcast rights, and the six Super Rugby sides got about R28m each, and the other eight provincial teams R20m each.
Media critics have constantly said that a 14 provincial-team set-up is financially unsustainable, and some should downgrade to semi-professionalism.
Alexander believes SA Rugby will return to profit. “We are signing some key new sponsors. They are big corporates,” he said at the announcement of a three-year deal with a domestic airline.