Absa’s ru­moured move to pull out of spon­sor­ing Cur­rie Cup will deal to rugby union

Fi­nan­cial blow

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF dan.retief@city­press.co.za

South African rugby is fac­ing a huge fi­nan­cial blow be­cause of the im­pend­ing loss of Absa’s spon­sor­ship of the Cur­rie Cup in­ter­provin­cial tour­na­ment. Three highly placed sources, re­spec­tively in the rugby fra­ter­nity, sports mar­ket­ing and advertising in­dus­try, say the bank will not re­new one of the coun­try’s old­est sports spon­sor­ships when the cur­rent con­tract – said to be worth about R20 mil­lion – ex­pires in De­cem­ber.

Absa, pre­vi­ously un­der the guise of San­tam Bank and Bank­fin, has backed the Cur­rie Cup, one of the old­est com­pe­ti­tions in world sport, since 1985.

The com­pe­ti­tion started in 1892 and was won by Western Province, who are co­in­ci­den­tally the cur­rent hold­ers of the ti­tle.

Al­ready reel­ing from a law­suit against their CEO, Jurie Roux, by Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity and the shock dis­missal of ref­er­ees boss An­dre Wat­son, the loss of Absa’s spon­sor­ship will deal a se­vere blow to the SA Rugby Union (Saru) and its af­fil­i­ates.

Unions rely on their share of the money that is put up by the bank and, re­cently, a prize money wind­fall was added to spur on prov­inces that reached the fi­nals.

This year’s edi­tion of the Cur­rie Cup kicks off on Au­gust 7.

Absa also spon­sors the Spring­boks – its logo ap­pears on their jer­seys. It is be­lieved it will re­tain this spon­sor­ship but re­place it with the logo of its Bri­tish prin­ci­pal, Bar­clays.

Although rugby unions and Absa’s busi­ness part­ners have been in­formed that the Cur­rie Cup spon­sor­ship is likely to end, con­fir­ma­tion of the bank’s de­ci­sion could not be ob­tained.

Bar­clays Africa Group head of mar­ket­ing David Wing­field said: “We are still in dis­cus­sions with the SA Rugby Union re­gard­ing our rugby port­fo­lio. An an­nounce­ment will be made in due course.”

He dis­counted ru­mours that other Absa spon­sor­ships, such as football’s Absa Premier­ship and the Cape Epic, the moun­tain bike race, might also be in jeop­ardy.

“Our cur­rent spon­sor­ship of the Absa Premier­ship runs un­til the end of the 2016/17 sea­son and the Absa Cape Epic un­til the 2018 edi­tion.

“We eval­u­ate them con­stantly to make sure we get bet­ter value and lever­age but are in no way relook­ing ei­ther of these in so far as pulling out,” he said.

PHOTO: ER­TRAM MALGAS / GALLO IM­AGES PHOTO: ADRIAN DENNIS, POOL / VIA AP

WIN­NERS Nizaam Carr of Western Province shows off the Absa Cur­rie Cup af­ter last year’s fi­nal World No 1

Novak Djokovic is chas­ing a ninth grand slam ti­tle in to­day’s

match

PHOTO: CARL FOURIE / GALLO IM­AGES

DE­FEATED Jaco Kriel of the Golden Lions in last year’s Absa Cur­rie Cup fi­nal

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