Cape Town - SA Rugby hope to announce a new title sponsor for the Springbok Sevens team as early as next week, with a “long list” of possible sponsors lining up to be associated with the reigning world series champions, according to the supersport.com website.
The Blitzboks officially parted ways with their sponsor Steinhoff after the company’s financial meltdown last month, with both the Varsity Cup competition - which was heavily sponsored by the furniture giant - and the Springbok Sevens suffering as a result.
The Blitzboks will play in this weekend’s Sydney Sevens tournament with SA Rugby’s logo “#LoveRugby” on their jerseys instead of a sponsor name, but the national body was confident that they will have a replacement soon for them.
At Varsity Cup level, banking giant FNB have stepped in from co-sponsor to fill the void for this year’s competition, with the sponsorship options being left open for next season. The move has been a nightmare for officials, with over 8 000 jerseys needing to be rebranded in a few weeks before the start of the University competition.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux, who is also the chairperson of Varsity Cup, believes that while it was an unexpected knock for the rugby fraternity, that there will be new sponsors on the horizon, especially for the Springbok Sevens, who are - in his words - the “hottest property in SA Rugby currently”.
“In the Varsity Cup FNB has obviously stepped up and have helped us out this year as an interim. And then we can go to market next year. I think it would have been very unfair for a sponsor to step in two weeks before Varsity Cup starts and then try and leverage it on a basis that the others were able to. That solves the Varsity Cup problem,” Roux said.
“On a South African rugby point of view, we still have to get through the legal hoops. There are contracts and people have to give you notice. We couldn’t go into the market until we received official notice from Steinhoff, which we did - the day we did the press release.
“We are currently in the market and we have a really long list of people who are interested. I’m hoping that we get through the normal legalities of short-form agreements, memorandum agreements and hopefully make an announcement as early as next week.”
Roux said the change of sponsor may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Sevens side.
“Sevens is probably the hottest property in South Africa at the moment, which is not great, I would have preferred the Springboks to be the hottest property, but it the property to sell. Economic times are tough but in the end I think we might do better than where we were.
“It is a transformed team, it is a performing team. It is a vibrant code, and it has done well for us at the Cape Town Sevens. They are the World Champions at the moment, we have a Commonwealth Games coming up, you have a World Cup coming up, so it is a pretty hot property and I’m pretty sure we will be able to sell that.”
The Springbok Sevens team will defend the Sydney Sevens title they won last year when they face off against the best in the shortened game this weekend.
Blitzboks' Pool C fixtures at the Sydney Sevens (all times SA):
Friday, January 26
SA v Papua New Guinea - 09:22
Saturday, January 27
SA v Spain - 06:03
SA v England - 09:14
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