Sharks will be hit hard financially by Super Rugby suspension but looking at bigger picture
Like all professional sporting bodies, the Sharks will be hit hard financially by the suspension of Super Rugby but their CFO, Eduard Coetzee, says “the bigger picture” is far more important.
Coetzee said that loss of revenue from this week’s canceled Chiefs game would be “significant,” especially because of the growing interest in a Sharks team that has been rejuvenated in 2020 under the coaching of Sean Everit and the guidance of Coetzee.
For last week’s Stormers visit there were just under 22 000 fans at the Shark Tank and there would have been many more had their not been widespread fears of the coronavirus.
That figure is a substantial improvement on attendances in 2019.
“The full extent of how this will affect us financially obviously depends on how long the suspension is but we have to understand that what is happening in the world is so much greater than sport,” Coetzee said.
“Yes, we are disappointed that we can’t play when we have been doing so well (and top of the overall standings) -- we are only human, but you would also not be human if you don’t see the bigger picture,” Coetzee emphasized.
“Rugby in this country is huge and we have a responsibility to be a light in our community, and that is what we must be in backing the government’s decisions all the way.”
Coetzee said that a (yet to be scheduled) Sanzaar telecon would shed further light on the way forward for the Super Rugby franchises.
“I think it will be next week and it will give us some timelines to work on as to the future of the competition this year. At this stage, I think rugby is taking a big breath and will feel its way forward in due course.”
From a Sharks point of view, Coetzee said that there is plenty of silver lining to the current cloud.
“What we have done this year is hardly wasted,” he said. “We have laid a great platform and when rugby resumes, that platform will still be there. We have much to look forward to.”
Coetzee was speaking from home where he is in self-isolation, as is the entire Sharks staff and players.
This is in line with the disaster management protocols set out by the government regarding gatherings of more than 100 and while the address by President Ramaphosa was a day after the Sharks hosted the Stormers, the Sharks have embraced a 14-day stand-down period.
The Sharks were scheduled to play the Chiefs in Durban this Saturday and then were due for their first bye of the season, which would have come after eight consecutive matches, so now they are effectively taking their bye a week earlier, according to Coetzee.
“This first week the guys are completely off -- they are exhausted after what has been a long haul for them, so the rest week they were to have after the Chiefs game has been brought forward for them to enjoy,” Coetzee said.
“The following week (the second week of isolation) they will be sent personal programs so they can exercise on their own. Those programs would be tailored according to how many minutes an individual has played.”
After the 14-day period has expired, Coetzee said the players would report for training at Kings Park but not en masse.
“We are looking at small groups training together in non-contact sessions,” Coetzee said. “We are not going to risk contact. Initially, I think it is best to be over cautious.”