Absa new Springbok sponsor
Springbok John Smit in the new look Absa jersey. (SA Rugby)
Johannesburg - Absa Bank will be the new official sponsors of the Springboks, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) announced on Thursday.
After nine years as an associate sponsor, the bank took over as the new official team sponsor from Sasol in five-year deal, which also includes the Springbok Sevens team.
The deal is rumoured to be in excess of R50 million per year.
Absa last year celebrated 25 years of involvement in the Currie Cup competition, and the bank's shift to the national team is being viewed as a natural progression.
"It's my very great pleasure to confirm one of rugby's longest standing friends as our new Springbok sponsor," said Saru president Oregan Hoskins.
"In many ways this announcement completes the circle.
"For the past 25 years Absa - through their various incarnations - has supported the Currie Cup, and shown a commitment and passion for the sport, which has few rivals among sponsors in any South African sports code."
Speaking from a picturesque setting at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg, Absa group CEO Maria Ramos said that part of the reason the bank has decided to take on another big responsibility, has to do with their goal of building stronger relationships with its clients.
"As a leading financial services brand, we view our sponsorships as powerful vehicles that enable us to communicate and connect with consumers from all walks of life," said Ms Ramos.
"Sponsorships are a cornerstone of our marketing investment, and our brand is one of our most cherished and important corporate assets."
Although other major sponsors like the South African Breweries were mentioned in the run-up to this announcement, Saru CEO Jurie Roux said that there was little hesitation in welcoming the bank on board.
"The deal was largely signed and sealed within a month of our beginning to seek a new sponsor, which is a tribute to Absa's enthusiasm for rugby, and the massive appeal of the Springboks," said Roux.
The Springbok Sevens team will be the first team to bear the Absa name when they run out in the Wellington Sevens tournament, which starts on Friday.
The first full Springbok team to wear the jersey will be the Tri-Nations team that meets Australia in Sydney on July 23.