A cen­tury of Spring­bok his­tory drives to­mor­row

Pretoria News Weekend - - EN­TER­TAIN­MENT -

In­de­pen­dent Me­dia con­tin­ues to un­pack and an­a­lyse South Africa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

THERE is no doubt­ing the Spring­bok player’s in­ten­tion in Bloem­fontein, post the 27-all draw with the Wal­la­bies, when he made the ef­fort to ap­proach mem­bers of the South­ern Palace Group of Com­pa­nies and thank them for their in­vest­ment in the Spring­boks and for their be­lief in the fu­ture of South African rugby.

The player then apol­o­gised for not yet hav­ing made it to rugby’s new­est spon­sor’s re­sort, be it the ho­tel or casino.

It was a very sweet and im­por­tant mo­ment be­cause here was a player go­ing out of his way to recog­nise the pres­ence of those cor­po­rates who con­trib­ute to the fi­nan­cial well­be­ing of the sport in the coun­try.

It is a credit to the cul­ture within the Spring­boks that there is re­spect for those who in­vest in the sport, but it also il­lus­trated how lit­tle (within rugby’s wider cir­cles) is known about the kind of heavy­weight now in the sport’s cor­ner.

Here’s the thing: The South­ern Palace Group of Com­pa­nies is not a ho­tel or casino re­sort but an all-South African, black-owned busi­ness that is trans­form­ing busi­nesses in South Africa and also wants to con­trib­ute to the trans­formed busi­ness of rugby in South Africa.

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux ear­lier this year ap­plauded SPG’s in­volve­ment in South African rugby. He said it epit­o­mised the con­fi­dence in the Spring­bok brand and also re­in­forced the im­por­tance of hav­ing a lo­cal, proudly South African com­pany aligned to the Spring­boks and South African rugby.

SPG’s Group CEO Lu­cas Tseki echoed Roux’s sen­ti­ments in de­scrib­ing the part­ner­ship as one that dove­tails with the sport’s trans­for­ma­tion and also one that he be­lieved would give SA Rugby a trans­for­ma­tive edge off the field.

Tseki de­scribed SPG’s re­la­tion­ship with rugby as an­other ex­am­ple of the com­pany’s vi­sion of in­vest­ing in her­itage South African brands.

In the past year, SPG ac­quired con­trol­ling in­ter­est in en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion group Murray & Roberts (M&R), with the newly black-owned con­struc­tion com­pany now called Con­cor.

Tseki reaf­firmed the aim of Con­cor was to build on M&R’s 115-year South African her­itage in be­com­ing a lead­ing Tier 1 in­fra­struc­ture player in South Africa and in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Tseki said the com­pany’s vi­sion in­cluded un­lock­ing the in­fra­struc­ture back­log, which ex­tended to health­care, ed­u­ca­tion and trans­port, as well as the wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion sec­tors.

“As Africa has to mod­ernise, some­one has to build the in­fra­struc­ture. There is no rea­son why (Con­cor) can­not be a leader in these spaces.”

SPG’s ini­tial in­vest­ment in South African rugby may be dwarfed when com­pared to their other in­vest­ments, but the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to adding to the trans­for­ma­tion of the sport, through growth and pros­per­ity, cer­tainly is no smaller.

SPG, through a start-up three-year spon­sor­ship, has recog­nised the iconic 100plus years her­itage of the Spring­boks and also en­trusted the sport’s role in mod­ern South African so­ci­ety.

And ev­ery­thing in 2017 is point­ing to­wards this just be­ing the start of SPG’s in­ter­est in rugby.

For pur­poses of those who may not know, in­clud­ing the well-in­ten­tioned Spring­bok player, the South­ern Palace Group of Com­pa­nies has a huge pres­ence in a di­ver­si­fied busi­ness port­fo­lio that in­cludes in­fra­struc­ture and con­struc­tion, steel, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­cy­cling, au­to­mo­tive trad­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nol­ogy and prop­er­ties, with re­cent in­vest­ments be­ing in Con­cor (for­mally Murray & Roberts Con­struc­tion) and Sa­fari In­vest­ments.

Spring­bok rugby has now been added to that busi­ness port­fo­lio and Tseki said the host­ing of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 2023 would be a ma­jor in­jec­tion on ev­ery so­cial, com­mer­cial and sport­ing level.

The trans­for­ma­tion of all sec­tors within South Africa is crit­i­cal to SPG, but the com­pany’s vi­sion was not lim­ited to own­er­ship trans­for­ma­tion but a holis­tic trans­for­ma­tion that would not com­pro­mise on op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence and de­liv­ery.

Roux, in wel­com­ing SPG to the Spring­boks, ac­knowl­edged the sig­nif­i­cance of the align­ment when it comes to a health­ier com­mer­cial fu­ture of rugby in South Africa.

Tseki con­curred: “Our slo­gan of driv­ing to­mor­row bodes well with the South African rugby team, who are driv­ing to­wards build­ing a win­ning and world class rugby team on the field.” ●

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