Roux re­lieved: SA Rugby start turn­ing bleak tide

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

THE SOUTH African Rugby Union (Saru) re­main in deep fi­nan­cial dis­tress, even with two ma­jor multi-mil­lion rand spon­sors re­cently com­ing on board but there’s re­lief on the hori­zon, ac­cord­ing to CEO Jurie Roux.

Last year Saru posted a R23.3 mil­lion loss largely due to the sud­den and ac­ri­mo­nious end of their spon­sor­ship deals with Absa and BMW, while the Spring­boks’ poor per­for­mances on the field did lit­tle to at­tract big money deals from cor­po­rate South Africa.

How­ever, there has been a turn­around in Saru’s for­tunes re­cently with telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant MTN sign­ing a three-year deal with the Spring­boks and now FNB be­ing the lat­est to back the be­lea­guered body.

Just like the Spring­boks have seem­ingly turned around their for­tunes on the field, Roux is con­fi­dent that Saru’s fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances will be a lot health­ier in the next year.

“Ob­vi­ously, sleep­ing a lit­tle bit bet­ter at the mo­ment. If you look back at 18 months from now, it was a pretty hec­tic ride but we are not out of the trou­ble yet. The Spring­bok team is not com­pletely out of trou­ble, they will still lose some games but they will per­form and it is the same for South African rugby,” Roux said at yes­ter­day’s spon­sor­ship an­nounce­ment in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“I think it will take us an­other 18 months to get us out of the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion that we got into.

“If you think about the Spring­boks, there is still one or two rights that are avail­able and that we will sell and hope­fully we will be mak­ing an an­nounce­ment be­fore the next Test. So, we are def­i­nitely on the up,”

While a move out of survival to have the Chee­tahs and South­ern Kings join the PRO14, which com­mences next month, Roux has not ruled out the prob­a­bil­ity of more SA fran­chises head­ing to the North­ern Hemi­sphere.

“We now have op­tions. We par­tic­i­pated in Sanzaar for decades and they have been re­ally good to us and I think we’ve been good to Sanzaar. We’ll still par­tic­i­pate in Sanzaar.

“We are as strong as we are be­cause we play Aus­tralia and New Zealand sides ... We still need to play New Zealand and Aus­tralia ... I don’t see that re­la­tion­ship ever end­ing or even com­ing to an end at the next cy­cle (2020),” said Roux.

“We are ob­vi­ously very ex­cited about the PRO14 and get­ting a so­lu­tion for more of our teams to par­tic­i­pate in­ter­na­tion­ally, be­cause that is where we want to be.

“If you think about the per­fect South African struc­ture, then we can have be­tween six to eight teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally and the rest of them on a semi-pro­fes­sional level. By do­ing those two things – cre­at­ing a plat­form both north, south and maybe east and west and on a lo­cal level still hav­ing der­bies and a feeder sys­tem – we will feed all the pro­fes­sional teams,” Roux said.

There are con­cerns about the Kings and whether they will be com­pet­i­tive af­ter a mass ex­o­dus of play­ers at the end of their Su­per Rugby and the un­cer­tainty about their man­age­ment with coach Deon Davids yet to sign his con­tract.

“We’ll had a train­ing squad with most of the guys pitch­ing (yes­ter­day). We’ll also have a man­age­ment team and that will be done this week. That com­pany was un­der liq­ui­da­tion and we couldn’t do any­thing.

“The unions made a com­mit­ment in shar­ing play­ers with the Kings, so we’ll have a squad and we will be ready,” said Roux.

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