Johannesburg - SA Rugby president Mark Alexander is pleading with the South African government to ease regulations and allow full-capacity crowds for the upcoming Carling Champions Match and the Test season.
Speaking during the Carling Champions Match launch in Johannesburg this week, Alexander explained that sport is almost entirely dependent on revenue from sponsorships, which can also be realised through spectator support.
With the Carling Champions team facing Italy in Queberha on July 2, the rugby governing body’s ambition to take the fixture to the “bedrock of black rugby” would of course benefit fully if more than 50% of spectators are allowed into the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“When I went to the (V&A) Waterfront in December, there were over 100, 000 people and I didn’t have to show my vaccination card, there was no social-distancing there,” Alexander said. “But when it comes to sport, we have all these undue regulations, which puts massive pressure on sport.
“Sport is the most poorly-funded in the country. While sport creates a vehicle for social cohesion, it is the most under-funded by the government, and we understand the government can’t do everything.
“But in order to fund ourselves, we need to get 100 percent stadium capacity, and that’s not only for rugby…it’s for soccer, cricket, everything. We cannot pay the bills. Do you know how much the staff at big stadiums have to be paid? Just to open the gates to big stadia…you have to pay so much to security and other staff.
“International events will stimulate our economy, sports tourism is big, and we need to look at this holistically and what it does to the livelihood of people.”
Alexander further explained why they chose to take the exciting Carling Champions Match to the Eastern Cape.
“If we don’t get 100 percent capacity, we are going to have to have the event within the rules, but there’ll be a big impact.
“That is the bedrock of South African rugby. If you go around the country and you look at the franchises, when you see a player of colour, 99,9 percent of the time black players come from the Eastern Cape, and if you look at coloured players, 99 percent either comes from the Eastern Cape or the Western Cape.
“It is the biggest player pool, almost 75 percent of our player base comes from the Eastern Cape or the Western Cape.”