CAPE TOWN – The South African Rugby Union’s 2018 year-end profit of R2million may appear modest but for its president Mark Alexander the turnaround is huge when measured against a R62 million loss the previous year.
Alexander finally has reason to smile after a turbulent last three years when Rugby’s national custodian was threatened with insolvency because of the financial crisis of 2016.
"There was no escaping our situation in 2016 and 2017. It really was the lowest point commercially and financially. We lost big sponsorships, the Springboks’ performance was poor, the rugby public was disillusioned and we were failing with our transformation targets," said Alexander.
Austerity measures had to be implemented to stop the financial bleeding. These included the sale of SA Super Rugby (Pty) and the closing down of the Springbok Experience Museum in Cape Town.
"It’s a relief that there is light, but so much more has to be done to ensure that light never again dims. If the last three years were about survival, then the next few years are about implementation of a strategic blueprint that will make for a flourishing rugby landscape," said Alexander.
Professional player contracting will be overhauled to reduce the pool of professionals, which financially has been crippling. The new Springbok contracting model will address the lack of proper succession planning that was experienced in 2016. Back then the Springboks lost 25 players to offshore and four captains to retirement or overseas clubs.
Alexander also lauded SA Rugby’s transformation gains.
"We showed a 70% improvement on the agreed targets with the Department of Sport and EPG on transformation in sport. We achieved 60 percent of our target, which was the leading percentage among the biggest South African sporting federations. Transformation is a strategic imperative for South African rugby if we want to be relevant by 2030 and we will be signing a new agreement with government in relation to our position on transformation. It is non-negotiable," said Alexander.
"Some regions are still letting our organisation down due to a lack of true commitment. There aren’t enough black coaches coming through the system and those who are there are not being provided with sufficient opportunities. The situation has to change."