Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

SA Rugby open letter: 'The Springboks are not being sold'

By Ian Cameron
Faf Dev Klerk of South Africa in action during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images)

SA Rugby have penned an open letter following speculation over the a highly publicised multi-millon dollar investment being made into the union.


Last we week it was revealed that South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on the verge of completing a multi-million dollar investment with American sports company Ackerley Partners. Ackerley Sports Group (ASG) are currently negotiating a partnership agreement to invest in South African rugby in a bid they claim will see growth for revenue base of the Springboks and SARU’s commercial activities.

The potential deal, still under negotiation and requiring approval from the 14 member unions, aims to create a Commercial Rights Company (CRC) where the private entity would hold a minority share, leaving SA Rugby as the majority shareholder.

Video Spacer

TRY or NO TRY – Boks Office discuss Scotland vs France | RPTV

In the latest episode of Boks Office, the guys and special guest Matt Stevens chat about the late drama in the Six Nations clash between Scotland and France. Watch the full episode on RugbyPass TV now

Watch now

Video Spacer

TRY or NO TRY – Boks Office discuss Scotland vs France | RPTV

In the latest episode of Boks Office, the guys and special guest Matt Stevens chat about the late drama in the Six Nations clash between Scotland and France. Watch the full episode on RugbyPass TV now

Watch now

Now SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer has issued an open letter to the nation no less. The letter reads: “As some of you may have read or heard, SA Rugby is engaged in conversations with a private equity company, which wishes to invest in the future commercial growth of our sport.

“That conversation is incomplete, and any agreement that may ultimately be reached, requires the approval of the 14 member unions of SA Rugby before it could be signed.

“But there has been much speculation, misdirection and misunderstanding of what the purpose and practicalities of such an agreement involve. Let me put the record straight.

“If you take only one thing from this letter, let it be this: The Springboks are not being sold – not now and not ever.


“If the private equity deal is approved, it will entail a company investing in a minority shareholding in the commercial rights to SA Rugby’s activities in a newly created Commercial Rights Company (CRC). SA Rugby will remain the majority shareholder.

“The CRC will not be responsible for the management or selection of any national teams nor for the management of competitions. It will be based in South Africa and have an operational staff transferred from the existing structures, augmented by international expertise and consultants. It will be SA Rugby’s commercial arm, a subsidiary to the mother body.

“What it means in short is that SA Rugby’s commercial activities of selling broadcast and sponsorship rights and running events will continue as before, only in partnership with a company with international experience who believe that our revenues are capable of meaningful increase. This is a good thing.

“That is the “what” is happening, but just as important in answering the question, “why are we doing it”?



“It’s simple: the Springboks are back-to-back world champions, but off the field the financial sustainability of rugby is far from world class.

The sport took extreme measures to survive the COVID pandemic, but we have zero reserves, and a similarly cataclysmic financial disaster would wipe out the sport as we know it in this country.

Similarly, our peers at international level outperform us in the global commercial markets and we have long needed a step change in our business to generate the income to keep the Springboks on top and, among many other things, help our women one day win their World Cup.

“We can’t produce that step change alone and from the foot of Africa, so we have actively sought a partnership with an organisation possessing the platforms, networks, and relationships to enhance our commercial value.

“We believe we have found potential partners with those attributes who will join us in the CRC, which will be dedicated only to organically elevating our commercial presence.

“I hope I have made it clear that this process is not about a quick cash injection; it is about securing the long-term financial sustainability of the sport of rugby in South Africa so that our international teams can compete on a level playing field.

“It will provide us with reserves to weather future storms and the capital to invest in strategies to put us on a par with international best practice on and off the field.

“We are not selling the Springboks; we are not ceding away any rights; we are building a new company with a minority shareholder to give the Boks (and the rest of rugby) the commercial resources to ensure that the idea of a Three-peat is not just a pipe dream.

“Together with the right commercial partners we will be Stronger.”



Join free

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Fresh Starts | Episode 1 | Will Skelton


Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 9

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

New Zealand crowned BACK-TO-BACK champions | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Women's Highlights

Japan Rugby League One | Bravelupus v Steelers | Full Match Replay

Trending on RugbyPass


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

12 Go to comments
TRENDING Jean Kleyn's season ending injury could be worse than first thought Jean Kleyn's season ending injury worse than thought