Past Springbok captains (left to right) Austen van Heerden, Welile 'Bomza' Nkohla, Jack Juries and Hannes Marais take in the displays at the Springbok Museum. Photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

CAPE TOWN – Cost-saving measures will force the Springbok Experience Museum in Cape Town to close down at the end of March.
This news was confirmed by SA Rugby on Friday.

However, visitors will be granted free entry until its final day of operation on March 31.

“This has been a very painful decision to take, but we have had to bow to economic reality,” said Jurie Roux, chief executive of SA Rugby.

“The museum achieved what we set out to do, by providing a world-class experience for visitors while telling for the first time the ‘hidden’ story of black rugby to a national and global audience.

“We have won accolades on an annual basis and have had 200 000 visitors in the past five years, who have been blown away both by the story we have told and the way it has been told.

“But the economic landscape in which SA Rugby operates has changed significantly since we first planned the museum in 2012.

“And the expenses we were happy to bear as a brand-building exercise at that time, have now become a challenge for the business.

“We have engaged with many stakeholders for many months on avenues by which this course may have been avoided, but ultimately we had no choice.”

The museum has earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award in every year of its operation, and was shortlisted for the International Museum of the Year Award in the UK’s Museum + Heritage Awards in 2014.

The Experience featured more than 20 interactive touch screen exhibits; a total of 64 audiovisual displays; half a kilometre of graphic panels, an eight-minute film presentation in a mini Springbok cinema; handprints of national captains and iconic artefacts from rugby history.

Roux thanked the donors – including World Cup-winning captains John Smit and Francois Pienaar – who had loaned their match jerseys to the museum as well as a host of enthusiasts and collectors who had provided materials and artifacts to tell the story.

“I would also like to thank the many enthusiasts and the simply curious from around the world who have visited us over the past five-and-a-half years,” he said.

“I think we have surprised and delighted many of them and added to the power and fascination of the South African rugby story.

“This is a sad day for rugby in South Africa.”

African News Agency (ANA)