‘High time’ for tough calls


The Citizen (Gauteng) - - SPORT - Ken Bor­land

Rugby boss wants clo­sure within the next month.

Ac­cord­ing to Saru CEO Jurie Roux, South African rugby had to lis­ten to the bark com­ing from broad­cast­ers and all other stake­hold­ers in the game and cut the num­ber of Su­per Rugby fran­chises or face the bite of eco­nomic hard­ship and po­ten­tial dis­as­ter fur­ther down the road.

Roux was speak­ing yes­ter­day at the launch of the Su­perS­port Rugby Chal­lenge, the new tour­na­ment that will slot in at the level be­low Su­per Rugby, fol­low­ing San­zaar’s an­nounce­ment at the week­end that South Africa will only be able to field four teams from next year.

“Our stake­hold­ers – spon­sors, fans, broad­cast­ers and me­dia – have been speak­ing very clearly about the lack of in­tegrity in the com­pe­ti­tion be­cause not every­one plays every­one else, and the con­fus­ing for­mat of Su­per Rugby. Broad­cast­ers wanted change to come im­me­di­ately other­wise they warned us we were go­ing to run into con­tract­ing is­sues.

“And the eco­nomic re­al­ity is that we can­not sus­tain six fran­chises. We can sur­vive with five but then we’d have to sac­ri­fice other things, and nei­ther can we sus­tain it from the player point of view ei­ther. So it’s high time tough de­ci­sions were made for the good of South African rugby, that’s what the staff are paid for and the of­fice-bear­ers are elected for.

“Ul­ti­mately it’s a num­bers de­ci­sion, the num­bers of spec­ta­tors and view­ers are in de­cline and there’s ob­vi­ously an is­sue with what sta­di­ums are pro­vid­ing as well. Plus half our fran­chises lose more matches than they win, so they’re not pro­vid­ing qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion,” Roux said at the Bill Jar­dine Sta­dium.

The CEO said pol­i­tics and emo­tion had gov­erned the pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion to ex­pand to six fran­chises, but he hopes the newly formed fran­chise com­mit­tee, and the Saru gen­eral coun­cil that will ul- ti­mately con­sider their pro­posal, lays those fac­tors aside when they con­sider which two fran­chises should be cut from Su­per Rugby.

“My plea to the fran­chise com­mit­tee is to make a swift rec­om­men­da­tion, not based on pol­i­tics or emo­tion, so that no­body can ac­cuse us of stalling. I will push as hard as I can to have this de­ci­sion made as quickly as pos­si­ble, at most within a month’s time,” Roux said.

He sug­gested an­other four pro­fes­sional fran­chises could play as a group in other over­seas tour­na­ments, while adding that the 14 pro­vin­cial unions had to con­tinue as semi-pro­fes­sional en­ti­ties look­ing af­ter the broad base of the South African rugby pyra­mid – the am­a­teur and school teams.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Danny Wil­lett of Eng­land presents Spa­niard Ser­gio Gar­cia with the green jacket af­ter Gar­cia won the Masters in a play-off at Au­gusta Na­tional Golf Club in Ge­or­gia on Sun­day.

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