Cape Town - While SA Rugby president Mark Alexander highlighted the governing body’s goal of acquiring private investors, he made it clear that it by no means planned on “selling the Springboks”.
Alexander was speaking during the Carling Champions Match launch in Johannesburg earlier this week and discussed topics ranging from the Springbok Women to upping SA Rugby’s fan engagement in the digital age.
Last year, the Champions Match took place at Loftus, with Jake White’s team thrashing Kenya 85-17.
With the Champions Match and the Test season as a whole on the 2022 rugby calendar, welcoming capacity crowds was naturally a matter the SA Rugby head spoke about. And with the exciting exhibition fixture looming against Italy on July 2, Alexander explained why opening the gates of stadiums to fans was so crucial.
SA Rugby recently announced that its revenue increased by 80% from 2020’s R700 million to R1.23 billion last year, driven mainly by broadcast income of R629 million and sponsorships of R329 million.
The British & Irish Lions Series, of course, was key in that surplus, with the governing body increasing its distributions to unions to R244 million.
Alexander went on to say that SA Rugby could not rely on government support alone.
"We realise that we need to bring in private investors to help us reach our goals. We do not have the money to fund all of these programmes. We cannot just keep looking to the government,” he said.
“We need to do things for ourselves. The government cannot help us with everything. We need to complete this private equity transaction. We are not selling Saru.
We realise that we need to bring more private investors into our game.”
Alexander, who was re-elected for a final four-year term as president of SA Rugby at last week’s annual general meeting, made a point of underlining the governing body’s ambitions in terms of growth while acknowledging the shift that needed to take place with the deliverance of sport.
"There are a couple of things I need to complete. The one is that we need to implement our digital strategy, as we know people consume sport differently now. We need to look at our fan engagement, because the next time we go around trying to sell sponsorships, it's not about content, it's about data.
"The other thing is that we need to complete this private equity transaction. I want to say this upfront now – we are not selling the Springboks, we are not selling Saru. All we are doing is taking our rights and putting them into a vehicle and maximising our rights at a different level.
"We want to associate our brand with the best brands in the world and have a collaborative marketing approach.”
With the Women’s Rugby World Cup taking place later this year in New Zealand, SA Rugby has outlined one of its objectives for the women’s code.
Alexander added: "We also want to put a succession plan in place for our key positions and, lastly, to ensure that women’s rugby takes its rightful place.”