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SA Rugby deny they're 'selling the Springboks'

By Stefan Frost
(Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

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SA Rugby will not sell the Springboks, despite being on the verge of securing a deal with the private equity firm CVC.


Mark Alexander, the president of SA Rugby, highlighted the governing body’s aim of acquiring private investors when speaking at the Carling Champions Match launch in Johannesburg earlier this week, but added that this would only amount to partial ownership.

CVC already have a stake in the Guinness Six Nations, Gallagher Premiership and URC and will further their footprint in rugby by extending their commercial outreach to South Africa. Alexander explained how independent financial security is the central reasoning behind the deal.

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“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 the Springboks, we are not selling SARU.

“We realise that we need to bring more private investors into our game. All we are doing is putting our rights into a vehicle and maximising them at a different level.”

The slow return of capacity crowds in South Africa has not helped matters. But in spite of this, SA Rugby have announced a revenue increase of 80 per cent between 2020 and 2021.


The British and Irish Lions Series was a key contributor to this, meaning that broadcast income and sponsorship deals reach 629 million rand and 329 million Rand respectively across that yearly timeframe.

Alexander, who was elected for a final four-year term as president of SA Rugby last week, believes there is still room to grow financially and has numerous ideas about how to tackle the issue head on.

“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.”

Alexander added that he wants SA Rugby to be associated with the best brands in the world and collaborate with them in order to maximise revenue streams.


That expansion plan extends beyond the men’s game. With the Women’s Rugby World Cup scheduled for later this year in New Zealand, SA Rugby also has plans to develop the women’s code.

Alexander added: “We also want to put a succession plan in place for our key positions and ensure that women’s rugby takes its rightful place.”


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