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'Absolutely kidding me': Sharks owner Masotti has got the hump

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

South African Sharks owner Marco Masotti has tweeted his dissatisfaction that a new Major League Rugby club is set to also call itself the Sharks. It was January 2021 when the businessman, who made his fortune on Wall Street in New York, became the controlling partner in the Durban-based team ahead of their switch from Super Rugby to the URC.

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That takeover resulted in him trolling the Gallagher Premiership’s Sale Sharks, Masotti tweeting last year: “How many shark species are there in Sale? Does not make sense. There is only one true Sharks rugby team. If Sale Sharks really wants a large fish, how about Sale Tuna? I came up with a new logo!”

Twelve months on from that pop at the English club coached by Alex Sanderson, Masotti has again taken to social media to outline his dismay that another team is set to call itself the Sharks.

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Responding to a tween from Paul Tait, a co-founder of the Americas Rugby website, about how the Miami Sharks are seeking to become the latest MLR franchise, the South African Sharks owner Masotti wrote: “Are you absolutely kidding me??? Change it! You can try but there is only one Sharks Rugby on this planet.”

In his tweet, Tait had written: “Looks like Major League Rugby in Miami with an accent. Argentine businessman Marcos Galperin, who founded Mercado Livre, is one of a group presently in the USA negotiating the next MLR franchise: Miami Sharks. Galperin played for San Andres.”

It was in an interview last July on The Big Jim Show, the podcast hosted by ex-Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, where Masotti explained why he was tempted to buy into the Durban-based Sharks. “I probably wouldn’t be at the Sharks if it wasn’t for covid,” he said. “The need for a capital infusion by rugby clubs around the world drove some new owners and different people to step in.

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“Everyone was effectively saying the same thing, we need to change, we need to bring more people to the table, we need to look at issues like the global calendar and different competitions, and we need to grow in places like the United States.

“I’m the biggest investor in the Sharks and have asked some real investors to join me in this endeavour. We got it at a good price. There is a lot of opportunity for growth. I also made a good business decision, it’s not purely romance and it’s not reckless. With the platform of Sharks playing in Europe, where the residual businesses around the sport and rugby, I will make a return on my investment and hopefully ride the wave.

“It’s a great time to get in. The snow globe has been shaken, it is going to take a little time to settle. If you are investing in a South African rugby team that is about to play in Europe, you are effectively investing in a different type of labour market with a massive talent pool and that comes with European exposure. That seemed like a great deal for me.”

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