Johannesburg - South African rugby is on the up, but it will take 18 months to get to a point where it is comfortable financially again, Chief Executive Jurie Roux believes.
Roux spoke to SuperSport.com after SA Rugby announced FNB as the newest associate sponsor for the Springboks and pointed to more sponsorships being announced in the next few weeks, saying that the outlook in SA Rugby was generally on the up.
“I’m obviously sleeping a little better at the moment. If you took us around 18 months from now, it was rather a hectic ride. We’re not out of the trouble yet, I keep on telling everybody. The Springbok team is not completely out of trouble, they will still lose some games, but they will perform. It is the same for SA Rugby,” Roux said.
“I think it will probably take another 18 months for us to get out of the financial situation we got into because of last year, but we’re sleeping a lot easier because of the fact that there is some financial support.
“To think about the Springboks, is about one or two rights that we will still sell and hopefully making an announcement in the next seven days. We hope before the next test about those properties, generally on the up.”
With the Cheetahs and Southern Kings looking to enter the Pro14 from September, Roux said there is an excitement about getting possibly more teams involved in international action, as the world of rugby moves towards a global game.
This will see the SA Rugby plan of eight professional teams and six semi-professional sides take more shape as these opportunities arise.
“If you talk about PRO14, we’re generally excited about PRO14, getting a solution for our teams to participate in PRO14 and a solution for more of our teams to participate internationally. Because that is where we want to be. If you think about structure, the perfect structure would actually be having six to eight teams participating internationally and the rest of them semi-professional. By that doing two things, creating a platform north and south, and perhaps east and west and on a local level still having derbies and still having a feeder that feeds into the local teams, which aligns with the structure we created end of last year for franchise and non-franchise rugby.
“It was a pretty quick deal in the end, it was a long time coming though and we didn’t start these conversations two months ago, we started them 18 months ago, but there was never an opportunity and when the opportunity came we were lucky enough to get it across the line.”
The other big issue for the national body at the moment is the World Cup 2023 bid, where the final bid will take place in September, with a decision likely before the end of the year.
And in this SA Rugby is confident it has not only a competitive bid, but one that outstrips both Ireland and France for the right to host the tournament.
“Obviously from a World Cup point of view, government walked the walk with us all along, but in the end we had to push things through in the last two months because of the ban that you all knew about and couldn’t do anything until the ban was lifted, so it was nervous times. But we got all four guarantees in - the minister of trade and industry, home affairs, police, finance and sport combined in terms of the guarantee and we have a pretty competitive guarantee there at the moment. Don’t be fooled by France there and everybody else because they have given the complete budget of World Cup.
“If you do that then you turn over around 400-415 million pounds and that is the complete turnover. And we’ve got all of that confirmed as well. If you look at the total value, it's around about there, it’s a big number guys.
“It is obviously a difficult thing to sell to people from a financial point of view, but in the end government backed us, we thanked them and the DG of sport did unbelievable work in getting that over the line, both in cabinet and all the relevant ministers. So we’re very excited.”
The Springboks will play with the FNB logo on the back of their jerseys in this year’s Rugby Championship and for the next three seasons.
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