Home Springboks SARU takes ownership of Tests

SARU takes ownership of Tests


The Springboks will face their Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool B opponents, Scotland and Samoa (as well as Italy), in an innovative new tournament featuring double-header Test matches in 2013, the South African Rugby Union announced on Thursday.


Fans will be able to watch two Test matches for the price of one after a ground-breaking decision of the Executive Council (EXCO) overhauled the way that Test matches are run in South Africa.

For the first time in Springbok history, Test matches will be solely hosted by the mother body.

The decision was taken by the EXCO after consulting the 14 member provinces. The EXCO also took the unique step of announcing the Test schedule for the next three seasons – featuring Tests in Nelspruit for the first time.

However, SARU cautioned that all matches were subject to conclusion of commercial terms with planned hosting venues.

“SARU was the only major union in world rugby that didn’t properly own its own Test matches,” explained CEO Jurie Roux.

“The decision by the EXCO now gives ownership to SARU.

“The key benefits will be in allowing us to plough a share of the profits back into all the provincial unions and, that by controlling the ticket office and all commercial activity in the stadium, we will be able to provide an experience for our stakeholders on a par with what we experience when playing overseas.”

Roux explained that the existing model had seen SARU effectively ‘sell’ Springbok Test matches to the major provinces. The Test-hosting unions paid a rights fee (the amount of which was dependent on the stature of the opponent) and then set ticket prices and kept all receipts as well as commercialising aspects of the match as they saw fit.

“This is a major change in how rugby is run and will present challenges,” said Roux. “But the major effect is that it has placed Springbok Tests in the ownership of the mother body, for the benefit of all rugby’s stakeholders.

“We are taking the Springboks to a new venue in 2013 and have an exciting new competition format for the June Tests – by coincidence against two of our Rugby World Cup opponents of 2015. We have also been able to map out a home fixture
schedule for the next three years – something the provinces had also wanted.”

The new-look quadrangular tournament for 2013 is between the Springboks, their RWC 2015 opponents, Scotland and Samoa, as well as Italy.

The tournament – which will be played on a log basis over two rounds to determine finalists – will open at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on June 8.

The fixtures are:

2013 Incoming Tour:

• Saturday, June 8 (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit): Scotland v Samoa; Springboks v Italy
• Saturday, June 15 (Kings Park): Samoa v Italy; Springboks v Scotland
• Saturday, June 22 (Loftus Versfeld): Team 3 v Team 4 ; Team 1 v Team 2

2013 Rugby Championship:

• Saturday, August 17 (Free State Stadium): Springboks v Argentina
• Saturday, September 28 (Newlands): Springboks v Australia
• Saturday, October 5 (Coca-Cola Park): Springboks v New Zealand

2014 Fixtures (dates to be confirmed):

• Incoming Tour: Springboks v Wales (Johannesburg)
• Incoming Tour: Springboks v Wales (Nelspruit)
• Incoming Tour: Springboks v Scotland (Port Elizabeth)
• Rugby Championship: Springboks v Argentina (Pretoria)
• Rugby Championship: Springboks v Australia (Cape Town)
• Rugby Championship: Springboks v New Zealand (Johannesburg)

2015 Fixtures (no Incoming Tour due to Rugby World Cup):

• Rugby Championship: Springboks v Argentina (Cape Town)
• Rugby Championship: Springboks v Australia (Durban)
• Rugby Championship: Springboks v New Zealand (Johannesburg)

Leave Your Comment Here


  1. Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux is gonna take ownership of these tests once HM gets visited by ghosts of Christmas Past and has an Ebenezer Scooge-like revelation.

    He won’t be looking to buy Tiny Tim a Christmas goose – he’ll be ringing up Willie. Precisely at the 40 minute mark


  2. Reply to Morné @ 11:55 pm:

    A singularly kak idea.

    The large unions make an immense amount of money off the big test matches.

    As an example the GLRU was able to pay all its debts off from the income generated solely by the 2010 FNB stadium test match it hosted.

    Newlands, EP, Loftus, KP all depend heavily on these big stadium filler games and the income generated from ticket sales to keep themselves afloat. Although it will now be better for the smaller unions, the test unions are likely to see a slackening of income streams.

    It would have been better had this been phased in. The present system sees the union having to provide a guaranteed payment to SARU to host the test in any event so they were never financially at a loss when the game was played, because they got a portion of the proceeds.

    This is indirectly going to cause major issues for the big unions.

    Is that a good thing? Well I see no test players at the Valke, Pumas, Griffons and Boland… with the playing field now equalled, expect i direct consequence of less cash to spend, to be smaller squads for big provinces and more elite players lost to France and the UK and Ireland etc etc…

    This is NOT a step in the right direction.

  3. Reply to DavidS @ 11:10 am:

    Cannot have your toast buttered on all sides Dawie.

    We bemoan SA Rugby’s lack of control in the game in SA and how the tail continually wags the dog. Elitism through the power mongering of the top unions is a very real problem in our game and in my view gives them the power to hide behind bad management and bad management decisions.

    Rugby is a business, you cannot have 5 unions control 80% of the funds in the game with 9 others sucking the hind tit.

    This will force unions to think creatively to sustain their income streams as any business should do. It will also force them to employ individuals qualified to run a business and not rely on the rugby-broederbond which has controlled the game far too long in the professional era.

    An equal playing field will see those who manage themselves as professionals rise to the top and that is how it should be.

    I also don’t buy into the losses of players overseas. Will we lose players? Of course we will. But with close to 20 000 players taking the field every weekend in senior rugby around SA – we got plenty to go around. We might even perhaps discover talents that were missed through the bottlenecked elite systems.

    Lastly, the 5 top unions has a 15 year head-start over the smaller unions, if they fail as a business because and equal playing field has been created for all unions they should never be there in the first place.

    I hope this is the start of SA Rugby taking even greater control of the game in South African rugby, including it’s most valuable assets, the players.

  4. I agree with Dawie. This is a money grab by the small unions and a bad thing. The small unions generate no income and now they want a larger slice of the pie. If his check from SARU gets even bigger, you may forget about Oom Harold making an effort to market the Cheetahs in Betlehem. Why would he?

    Reply to Morné @ 12:38 pm:

    Ever heard of the Pareto principle? The law of the vital few. 20K or 20M players taking the field every weekend are irrelevant. Only a few hundred is good enough that people will pay to watch them play and of those, only a few dozen that brings in the big money. If we let them go to Europe, the money will follow them.

  5. The GLRU is the biggest loser here.

    This may be a calculated move by SARU to ensure big time rugby for Port Elizabeth by keeping the Lions small and poor.

  6. Reply to Timeo @ 2:50 pm:

    It also MAYBE a calculated move to generate more money so that they can afford to contract elite players centrally and manage their playing schedule better.

    The worlds full of maybes and what if’s. Time will tell what the big plan is.

  7. I think this is very premature by SARU. Announcing three years of test? What if the world comes to an end as all is saying? Then they have now started an argument between rugby supporters for nothing. No I think they should have waited to see if there is a next year.

  8. Reply to Ollie @ 3:47 pm:

    A few years ago, a smaller union, I think it was the Cheetahs, complained that they made a loss from hosting a Test, because SARU’s hosting fee was larger than their profit.

    SARU got decent revenue and the hosting union assumed all risks.
    In future, the risks and the losses will be SARUs. If they host more Tests in small cities, there will be more of it. Great news for the small union administrators though. They get the local Tests, with none of the risk and they get a larger share from the Tests in the big cities.

    This may turn out okay. If it’s well managed and the money is used optimally, towards the elite players, but what’s the chance of that?

    PS. I fully agree, regarding the GLRU, but none of the smaller unions have done any better (eg. the recent doings in Boland) and throwing more money their way is not going to solve that problem.

  9. I like reading your posts Timeo, always makes one think. Allthough, I do feel this is the season to be cheerfull and I try not to think. But still allways a good read.

    As for the 20000 players, I tend to agree with David and Timeo, no way that all 20000 is good enough to play serious senior rugby.

    It will be our own downfall if we say that players can leave, we’ve got lots to spare. I know this is not what you are saying Morne, but still we must be carefull about the way we see SARU. They never fail to dissapoint and I can see them running the whole of SA Rugby into the ground if they alone controll how money is spent.

    I am in two minds, this could be good for us, if managed properly, this could be really good for us and a step in the right direction, but SARU must first prove themselves to act in the best interest of rugby in south africa. Something they have not done in a while.

    So I can see this going horribly wrong for us, and I can see rugby in general not being the winner in this decision. I hope I am wrong and I hope I am forced to eat humble pie, and suddenly the big 5 turning into the big 14, but somehow I strongly doubt that.

    One thing and maybe I missed it, but will SARU be paying the host union rent for use of their stadium?

  10. Reply to Timeo @ 2:43 pm:

    I have worked in sales all my life – I am well aware of the 80/20 principle. Better known as the thumb-suck principle.

    But tell me, what is 20% from 150 compared to 20% from 500?

    In other words, comparatively what would the strength of our game be (financially and in numbers) if we produced 500 elite players in this country to the current 150? What would our risk be if we lose 10% of 150 players to Europe to 10% of 500?

    Another point – how much talent is lost or never discovered because of a congested elitist system whose reach only stretches that far to a scenario where the pool not only increased in numbers, but geographically is broadened?

    A practical example – the Varsity Cup is still in its infancy but the establishment of the competition which includes areas never exposed in other elite competitions in South Africa has not only produced Currie Cup and Super Rugby players, it has seen its first Springboks produced.

    South Africa, NZ, Oz and Arg will always lose players to Europe, you will never stop that – the challenge is to ensure the game keeps producing locally so the effects is never felt or hurts the game.

    Part of that challenge is not only ensuring you keep on producing players, it is to ensure the game grows in popularity and you increase its footprint to a wider audience. If rugby continues to be the holy cow only good enough for a certain few, it will fail.

    Since we are throwing theories around one that is also quite important is Maslow’s theory which was mentioned in transformation charters in the past and studies done. I think it was Basson who mentioned in this instance that there is little value to create awareness of the game in previously disadvantaged communities of this country if we are merely looking to pluck the best black players out of their communities and stick them in the top elite unions. If you want more people to identify with the game (especially the race which makes up 80% of the population), eg grow your supporters base and with that grow the game’s commercial appeal, help them to identify with it in areas and with people they are familiar with and can relate to.

    So yes, there is much truth in the 80/20 principle, but I’d rather have South Africa produce an elite core of 500 than 150.

    Oh and a last thing – the example of Boland and other small unions is a bit disingenious – my point of a level playing field is quite simple, there are no favours, there are no freebies, if you make it you do so because you can get shit done, if you fail, it is of your own doing. And that goes for any union – big or small. The Cheetahs fail because they are incapable of running a business, they have no idea how to manage their resources, and could not market condoms in a brothel.

    I simply cannot understand why we want to limit ourselves, our game, and its resources to 5 elite unions only – it never made sense to me and it will never make sense to me.

  11. Reply to Timeo @ 4:33 pm: Reply to Aldo @ 5:31 pm:

    It seems that the problem is not really what is done here, but if SARU can manage it properly.

    Lads – no union in SA can manage their own bloody affairs properly yet we let them run the show in rugby currently.

    I have more faith in one organisation sorting their kak out than 5 doing it.

  12. Reply to Aldo @ 5:31 pm:

    None of the new stadiums built for Fifa 2010 are owned by a rugby union and there will probably be loads of political pressure to schedule games at these.

    In that case: WP, the Sharks and the Lions will be the big losers but rugby as a whole should be able to make more money from games hosted at the new stadiums in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

    Unless the local union can enforce the clause about controlling all games in their region, like WP did with Premiership game last year.

  13. Reply to Timeo @ 5:55 pm:

    This new thing by SARU effectively takes that right away from unions (to decide) as SARU owns tests. Unions or rather, franchises, can still enforce it for Super Rugby and other games though.

  14. But I do see a bigger picture here and something a bit more sinister perhaps (just speculation).

    SA Rugby is definitely moving towards wanting to contract top Boks themselves – their problem, top 5 unions currently will not allow that. Simple.

    SARU takes ownership of tests and decide where they are played. Easy way to get unions to ‘buy’ into their vision of central contracting and those that don’t, well, they will have to be happy with the odd test against Scotland, Italy or Samoa from time to time…

  15. Morne, I hear what you are saying about a bigger player pool, but then the next question becomes will there be 500 elite players to choose from? I cant see this making any of the smaller unions any more successfull than they currently are.

    Yes they are going to get a cut from tests, but I dont think a big enough cut for them to contract elite players. The cut they get will be small, SARU will use the money to get themselves out of trouble and also to bring into play the central contracting of players, if this is indeed the way they are going to go.

    So I fail to see how this will suddenly give us 500 elite players, but then maybe my narrow minded pretoria kraal views cannot fathom the influence it will have on the smaller unions.

    Seriously though, this will only make the fat cats fatter and leave the smaller unions right where they are. Remember, rugby tickets need to be sold and SARU will have to play games then where there is a big probability of sold out stadiums, hence the game will stay for the most part in the big metro’s. If you dont believe me, go read through the plans for the next 3 years of tests again and see where the higher majority of games are scheduled.

    So again, I cannot see the smaller unions making enough money to contract elite players. That is simple mathematics in my view. This, like the system where the test are sold to unions, will in the end only make the rich richer.

    Let’s use a simple analogy, I am the owner of a massively succesfull venture in Cape Town, now I decide to try and reach the Gauteng market, will I go open a franschise in PTA and Jburgh, or do I head to putsonderwater and cullinan?

  16. Reply to Aldo @ 6:23 pm:

    No Aldo my example there was actually specific to what Timeo suggested, not really the issue in the article.

    The issue in the article for me which is relevant is;

    a) SARU taking more ownership of the game. It is something I accused them of shying away from letting unions run wild which created more problems than they solved.

    b) With ownership comes accountability. It was just way too easy for SARU to run away from proper governance as ‘decisions’ or ‘results’ that went wrong was largely placed on the ‘presidents council’. The fact that they are now taking ownership and responsibility like any governing body should is long overdue.

    c) I was never a fan and never will be a fan of unions dictating the direction rugby should take in this country. I.e. the president’s council. That is the job of SARU and yes I have never been their biggest fan, in fact, I am their harshest critic on this blog most of the time so I am not convinced they are able, but the fact that they are now at least moving to take on this responsibility is positve – again, accountability – we can now measure them, and if they are found wanting those in charge should be booted (bye Hoskins).

    This is but a small step in the general direction I actually want to see our rugby move. Unions’ job is to run the game in their region, that’s it – the direction of our game nationally is the responsibility of SA Rugby the organisation. Today they take ownership of tests, tomorrow they take ownership of their players (Boks). All of this directly impacts on the unions from where all the other ideas I mentioned comes from.

  17. Reply to biltongbek @ 6:24 pm:

    Believe me it is not something I just thought of now – it has something that has pissed me off for years on end.

    Also which is why I love this place – as Aldo mentions, the arguments raised in here really makes you consider things from all angles.

  18. Reply to Aldo @ 6:23 pm:

    Sorry that was a bit of a shitty explanation – my post was relevant to the players lost to Europe scenario – I simply do not see this as a problem if we can (for once) put proper structures in place in rugby in this country.

    We are not Australia who has a handful of players playing the game competing against 20 other codes. Rugby can really become strong in this country if we just let it – for me it will always start with taking responsibility – SARU is doing this now or starting and that I see as positive.

  19. I agree with you Morne, in as much as the fact that SARU is taking responsibility. That is a good thing to me as well, like I said, I am in Two minds on this whole issue. Yes it is good to see rugby’s governing body finally doing what a governing body should do, govern.

    But here is my problem, for years we have seen SARU sticking their head in the ground, why would they change now. If they are serious about taking responsibility for rugby, then they should have a good long look in the mirror, before they try and concinve me that they now all of a sudden want to be a proper rugby governing body. Clean house a bit and then start with shit like this. I agree in principle with the idea, but I get a sour taste in the mouth when I think of the responsibility sitting in the hands of a bunch of twats not serious about the game in our country.

    So yes, this might be good, but it might just be leaving the gate open for the wolf to feed on the sheep.

  20. Reply to Aldo @ 6:58 pm:

    I can only speak from personal experience in my dealings with SA Rugby over the last 7 or so years.

    In the last 18 months there has been a massive, massive improvement. Their communication with the media is very professional. They are always available for comment or to clear issues up so also accessible.

    Some real changes are also taking place – the new club competition is one example, the new transformation plan another (I actually think this one will help with functional, realistic change in transformation and you know how big a sceptic I am in this regard).

    I also know of one or two things they are doing or busy developing not made public yet which is bloody exciting.

    It might be simplistic from me but these changes went hand in hand when Jurie Roux joined this organisation.

    Early days, but I am actually positive about a lot of things from SARU apart from their president who I reckon is a waste of space – along with Marinos.

  21. Well in that case Morne, this will then be a good thing.

    So tell me, is their transformation plan half as good as mine?

  22. As for the president, Ive never been a fan. But lets see where they head and what they do. Hopefully this is SARU becoming competent. Just cos its christmass time, Ill give them the benefit of the doubt

  23. Reply to Morné @ 12:38 pm: Morne with respect that is communist thinking. But by leveling the playing field what you are doing is creating equal mediocrity. You’re penalizing the provinces that are traditionally successful in favour of those who are not.

    Leveling the playing field now means that all those wonderful experts WP and Bulls and Sharks pay for like mind coaches, spring coaches, strength and conditioning and psychologists can no longer be afforded.

    And the big unions have to lower their ability to play and compete at top level and we lose players because we’ve created mediocrity.

    Fact is and it is a a fact, in pro rugby you are always going to find teams that are best capable of looking after their interests financially.

    Then there are those who cannot.

    What will happen now is that the top managed Bulls and Sharks will be penalized by having to pay for the inability of GLRU and the SEC teams to manage themselves.

    Creativity of income streams sound to me like

    “Tough shit we’re taking the cash you go find it somewhere else”

    This is a stupid decision.

    We are now going to hemorrhage talented players at a prodigious rate. There can be no such thing as equality in sports precisely because sports teams decide which are best. This is a stupid idea made by stupid people for the wrong reasons.

    “Leveling the playing field” punishes the success of the Big Five.

    Besides in the past what happened is that unions were gives RFP’s for tests and tendered for a test.

    When awarded a certain very large slice of the income had to be guaranteed by the union and eventually paid over to SARU, so SARU got the cash they wanted, and the rest was for the union to take for themselves.

    Example EP gets awarded an All Black test but this is subject to SARU being guaranteed R10 mill (which is what they want) for giving GLRU the hoisting rights. GLRU makes say R30 mill from the test and SARU gets paid R10 mill and the rest helps the union.

    There was nothing wrong with the system.

    Now SARU takes everything and divides it between the unions. Here’s my guess of what happens

    Universal dropping standards because the top flight do not get access to good SARU funding. My guess is in any case that money will be primarily spent on airy fairy meaningful nonsense like “development” and “grass roots” pocket lining projects and the unions which are most poorly managed, like SEC and GLRU will benefit from the income equality whilst the top successful ones don’t get to share anything and are left to their own devices to suddenly replace on R30 mill per year.

    I repeat

    KAK idea.

    This is not a constitution where equality needs to be created. This is a cut throat professional world. We are not like England and France which have one or two national stadiums that host test matches. This is not New Zealand where NZRU owns everything. This is South Africa where GLRU owns EPS, the Bulls own Loftus, the Sharks own KP and WP owns Newlands.

    This is yet again one of those fucking stupid ESSA crap of looking overseas to find solutions to things which are not broken in South Africa.

    As for your blanket “SARU must take control” remark that is also nonsensical. Nobody has said that SARU must become like a politburo controlling every aspect of rugby. There are specific situations where SARU needs to take control of rugby. One of those is player management but there needs to be a quid pro quo for managing players.

    To paraphrase you.

    You CAN give financial control to successful unions in a professional era. That is the way capitalism works. Your argument is akin to saying that Nike and SAdidas must give up income streams to give Onitsuka Tiger and UnderArmour a chance to compete on equal terms with them. The reason why the big unions can best control SARU is because they have established themselves as sufficiently successful and caable of managing businesses and professional affairs in the professional era as opposed to say the SEC circus. Effectively excluding the primary purpose of going professional. In effect your argument is childishly naive and lacking in any substance whatsoever.

    I’m not asking you to buy into the player losses, I am telling you that is what is going to happen whether you buy into it or not. This system is going to ensure the big unions which have the financial clout to keep big name stars in SA will no longer have it because equalization means the mediocre is brought up and the successful brought down. So a nice little socialist system. If top teams can no longer afford big salaries the players are going to search elsewhere – they WILL have less money to spend. This is like global warming… it’s not a fucking religion you need to believe in.. it is… it just is… whether you believe in it or not. And it will also affect the professionalism of the teams to retain professional expertise, like the mind coaches and sports psychologists and analysts and expertise like that.

    I reiterate this is a BIG mistake.

    And what the game needs is SARU oversight not control.

    So Boertjie… daar’s sommer a STFU vir jou ook.

  24. Reply to Aldo @ 7:07 pm:

    I believe this is his last term.

    Thing about the new SARU transformation plan also comes down to what I mentioned above – they have deliverables, which means they can be measured, that again comes down to accountability because now we can judge them on how they measure up to their targets – as for the targets, it is logical, functional, short term aims or goals with long term results based on practical solutions, not pie in the sky shit.

    Each union has targets based on their demographics which is something we asked for years ago. Again, imo (for now) they are taking some real responsibility based on logical and achievable targets.

  25. Reply to Morné @ 6:03 pm:
    SA Rugby is definitely moving towards wanting to contract top Boks themselves – their problem, top 5 unions currently will not allow that. Simple.

    That is a lie and you know it.

    As far back as 2006 when Jake Wanted to withdraw players from CC the big unions said they’d allow it but on condition they get compensated for losing the player to national duty.

    As it is the present situation is that in SR SARU pays the players a certain percentage of income per player – note NOT the full salary – the union STILL has to pay the balance because SARU contributes a capped amount per player in SR – and otherwise if the national side’s players are still contracted to their unions and have their salaries paid by the unions.

    This was the exact issue the big unions had concerning the players called up for national duty and for camps and other rest. THEY CONTRACT THE PLAYERS, PAY THEIR SALARIES AND GET NO RETURN WHEN SARU USES THEM. Of course the Big Five have plenty to rightfully complain about in such a ridiculous situation. As it is some top players like Habana for instance gets a capped salary contribution paid by SARU for participating in SR and then ON TOP OF THAT WP adds extra income. It is plain common sense capitalism.

    And at the time I said I agree with the big unions which said to SARU… pay the salaries and you can make the calls. Believe me, I have chatted to Bulls and Lions management and they’d like nothing better than to have centrally contracted players because it absolves them from salaries responsibility.

  26. Reply to Timeo @ 4:39 pm:

    Most of what he said was dumb.

    And throwing Maslow around in that way pretty much establishes Morne has no idea what Maslow’s hierarchy is. It’s a needs hierarchy Morne. It is about what people need to live not about plucking black players from obscurity and throwing them into a cauldron of international rugby. Geez I have just first year communications and I know that.

    Reply to Ollie @ 3:47 pm:

    Nope… that is not the way it can work. They generate PLENTY enough cash from television rights sold.

    Reply to Morné @ 6:00 pm:

    KP is also owned by the Natal clubs.

    Sorry I stopped reading there because your thought processes are adled and tortured by having to twist reality.

  27. Reply to DavidS @ 7:14 pm:

    Still cannot agree Dawie.

    ‘Levelling the playing field’ does not mean take from one and give to another in what I am suggesting, it means everybody has a fair shot in making a success as a company in a professional environment. Some will make it, some won’t, and if any of the big unions lose out with a 15 year head-start in professionalism in rugby then they are simply super shit.

    Also, what made these elite unions successful in pro-rugby? The fact that they run a good business or the fact that they were gifted guaranteed revenue streams from the outset based on historical factors?

    What type of system are we supporting if we allow certain unions freebies in a professional environment because of when they were established or how successful they were in 1960?

    If you run your affairs properly you have no reason to feel threatened – simple as that. I’d be shit surprised if a new rugby super power in Nelspruit replaces the Bulls in Pretoria, but you know what, if they do it says more about the Bulls than it says about the guys in Nelspruit.

    So my point in this is two-fold, one the elite unions need to wake the fuck up and run their affairs properly as a business – two, the smaller unions to stop standing with cupped little hands waiting for hand outs and bail outs from SA Rugby and other unions – you get the same, make it work or close your doors.

    Like you said, in pro sport some teams and unions will cut it, some won’t – I say, let’s see who does if we afford them the opportunity to compete.

    As far as player exodus goes.

    Still don’t agree on that either.

    One of my previous posts to Timeo is one example, the second, NZ loses top players but actually not that many – in addition, they have capped All Blacks and Super Rugby contracted players playing for ‘2nd tier’ or smaller unions in their local ITM cup. Those folks are not chasing Pounds, Euro’s or Yen – they play in ‘smaller’ unions and are actually quite happy doing so because they structures work.

    We have the numbers to ensure we will be fine, what needs to happen next, is get the right structures in place.

    SARU has allowed the big 5 unions to become elitist institutions (financially) based on what? What they achieved as amateurs in the 50 or 100 years before the game went professional?

    I have mentioned this before – in our rugby we are obsessed with racism in rugby (or transformation) – elitism imo is far more dangerous to our game than racism will ever be. To deny any region the ability to develop the base, skills and opportunity to compete in a professional environment is shockingly disgraceful and dangerous for the game.

  28. Reply to DavidS @ 7:34 pm:

    Ag FFS David the Sharks have a lease on Kings Park which expires in 2056.

    And perhaps go read the Basson report to understand the context.

    Get your facts straight at least before you go off on a tangent. Otherwise I am wasting my time trying to have a sensible debate.

  29. On a much happier note, Heksie has reached half-way with the twins, scans again Tuesday and I am officially on leave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Cheers folks, chat tomorrow.

  30. Another problem I see with this scheme is that SARU has no experience hosting big events. They’ve never done it before and six events a year are not enough to employ a full time group of staff for the purpose.

    They can own all the rights, but they will still have to farm out the actual work to an outside entity.

    Who will it be?
    Perhaps they will use a sports promotion and marketing firm owned by an ex-SARU exec. or a friend/family of a current exec. I’m sure the son of Boland’s president will bid.

    How many of you will be happy with that?

    Or they can farm it out to some entities that have decades of experience with hosting a dozen or more big matches every year.

    Yes, I’m talking about the Sharks and the Bulls and the Lions and WP!

    Should work. Not exactly as before though.

    Instead of the union paying SARU a fixed fee and assuming the risks and keeping the profits, SARU will now assumes the risks and keep the profits and pay the union the fixed fee.

    The big unions, being the more experienced party in the transaction, will know exactly at what level to set the fee in order to make it worth their while.

    SARU can of course always decide to stiff them and host the Tests in small cities along with the much smaller revenues
    it would produce and the chaos that will come with inexperienced management.

    Things are looking ever brighter for the Boland prez. and his son’s bidness.

  31. Reply to Timeo @ 1:58 am:

    Just because it was never done before doesn’t mean it cannot be done.

    Unions who host will not walk away empty handed that is for sure, so there will have to be a partnership between SA Rugby and the union.

    And let’s be honest – the ‘events’ hosted by these unions for tests was hardly world class – unless of course you reckon 50 okes dancing on the field to the beat of music that reaches your ears 5 seconds later and Kurt Darren as pre-match entertainment is world class entertainment…

    Hell SAFA who cannot organise a piss-up in a brewery did pretty okay in the SWC in 2010.

    Also looking at the venues until 2015 above… Between CPT, Gauteng all the top 5 (rugby championship) teams are hosted in these cities. Nelspruit and PE (world class stadiums) gets Wales, Scotland, Samoa and Italy.

    Only union that seemingly gets screwed here is the Sharks who struggle to fill a stadium for any match.

  32. Morne you’ve said nothing that causes me to think differently.

    The only option I hope for I think is that Timeo’s theorem that that the work gets farmed back to the hosting union happens. But I strongly suspect it’ll be Boland’s CEO’s second cousin’s newly formed sports entertainment CC that does the work.

    ps. SAFA did not host the Football World Cup. FIFA did. They appointed a Local Organizing Committee with Danny Jordaan as a figurehead and the work was actually all done from Lusanne in Switzerland by Swiss, German, French, English and Brazilian execs. Even the contracting of builders was all managed solely by FIFA.

    SAFA did not organize jack. All they did was beg government to build white elephant stadiums.

    If you think our entertainment is crap, you should see those before games in England, Wales and Scotland. France and Australia at least try to get non names to entertain but the poor entertainment excuse is nonsense. It works just the same if centrally run. Ras Dumisani was organized by the FFR centrally and not Stade Francais. So please do not use that excuse.

    This is going to end in tears.

  33. I think this is a very good idea.
    Appart from the Bulls and mabe the Sharks, the rest of the unions administrators have not done enough to show they can take the game forward in their respecive provinces on their own.
    It is also great that the smaller unions will be getting a boost
    And be able to contract better players(especially more fringe players from bigger unions not getting game time)
    I am exeptionally happy for the Pumas, Nelspruit and the people of Mpumalanga. I spend the latter part of my childhood and high school years in Nelspruit(same school as Heyneke Meyer), and know their will be lots of support for the Boks there. I will definately go down an watch that test match.

  34. Reply to DavidS @ 9:20 am:

    All the fears around this move is seemingly SA Rugby’s ability to manage it properly.

    Now we won’t know until next year to see, but I maintain SA Rugby is improving from where I sit. I am also quite happy they are taking ownership of their brand, Springbok rugby.

  35. If these moves are going to improve the collective, in that I mean all 14 Provinces gain financially and hopefully that will keep more talent at all the Provinces then I am all for it.

    The way things are going and have been going for the past number of years effectively created 3 strong Frnachises and that will not build sustainable depth in SA rugby.

  36. Actually I don’t thinks Tests generate
    a lot of money, even if the TV rights
    are thrown in.
    Anyway, the profit shared around 15 unions
    won’t change their status one iota – they
    are not suddenly going to become major
    forces on the big scene.

    And so far only Nelspruit has been added
    to the venues list.

    But I’m liking this thread.



  37. Reply to Boertjie @ 1:40 pm: Reply to biltongbek @ 3:03 pm:

    Might have been the case a few years ago, but now Super Rugby is the biggest money spinner by a very long way. Even the CC counts amongst the most watched rugby games in the UK (can you see why I want us to preserve and expand our local competitions?)

    Tests, especially against tier 1 nations will always draw the widest audience, but there is just not enough of it to compete globally. On average, any country will host 6 to 7 tests a year out of a total of 12 to 14 played.

  38. Reply to Morné @ 8:43 am:
    You have what makes hosting a test all wrong. First and foremost its about filling a stadium at exorbitant ticket prices. Making a big profit. Efficient crowd control. Order and safety.

    Halftime entertainment is the least of all things.

  39. Reply to Timeo @ 5:41 pm:

    No I think you got it wrong. Filling a stadium is a bonus – there is no money to be made through gate takings. Your profits comes from what you sell through what is viewed on TV.

  40. great move by SARU and Nelsruit testament to this.

    watched documentary on Facebooks Zuckerman last night and sad to think how in new modern world a 7 years old company like Facebook has way more corporate intelligence than a 100 year old SA rugby.

    But let me rather shut up before my instinct tells me to blame the fokken kakdom broederbond.

    Only reason this is not a GREAT move is the fact that SARU is every bit as stupid as Cheetahs Union are.

    The 7 year old facebook makes us look like the insolent idiost we are

  41. and before you look at your standard ‘brendon is a njamau’ handbook of counterarguments answer me this:|

    how can a country with no rugby heritage at all host a 7’s tournament in the middle of nowhere (USA in las Vegas)yet draw tonnes more people than us?

    Answer 1: we are fuct-up

    Asnwer 2: we cannot market a stinky arse at a pampers convention

  42. Reply to Morné @ 8:00 pm:

    You have it all wrong. The TV contract may be the single biggest item but there are no profits to be made from it.

    The TV contract is set years in advance and is sold widely with pretty much a universal price per eyeball. It acts like a commodity and profit margins in commodities are razor thin. In the case of sport, it is because the players and their agents are very much aware of the value and will up their prices to absorb any increase in revenues.

    Sports teams make their profits on the items where they can differentiate from the competition (likewise in any other business) merchandise and gate takings.

    The NFL takes stadium sales so seriously that they prohibit the TV broadcast of a game in the local market if the game is not sold out by the Thursday before the match.

    Bonus = profits. Because regular income is consumed by running costs.

  43. The reason why the Sharks can hire talented players away from the Cheetahs is because of gate takings, not a TV contract.

  44. Reply to Timeo @ 10:14 pm:

    Hang on…

    Let me just understand your post before I respond.

    In essence, you are telling me teams like the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks, Cheetahs (and up to this year) Lions made all their money as a business because of how many folks came through the gates?

    I just want to be clear on this before I actually respond.

  45. Reply to Morné @ 11:04 pm:

    Not all their money. Thinking that would be silly. Rather most of the money that counts.

    The money that counts is the difference between your income and those that competes for the same resources.

    In case of the Cheetahs and the Sharks. They get equal amounts from the TV contract and if that was all their income, they would be able to employ equal talent in players.

    But they do not employ equal talent in players.

    The income that enables the Sharks to buy better talent than the Cheetahs is the income that counts.
    Game-day income, merchandise sales and even logo sponsorship are all related to the number of fans a team have and the best indicator of that is attendance figures.

  46. When the Lions were the richest union in the world, it was not due to a TV contract.

    Attendance at Ellis Park was the big factor.

  47. In my opinion this widespread idea that game-day attendance does not matter is a big part of the problem in SA rugby. It explains why the Cheetahs put in no effort to promoting themselves to their fans. Why would they put effort and money into something, that in their opinion brings no benefit.

    If you get that you’ll also get why in matters of SARU vs. the big unions I normally trust the big unions more. The majority of unions in SARU are small. They have no fans and thus cannot be expected to care about the things fans would want from rugby.

    I am a fan.

  48. Now where I will agree with you is the brand value of any team or union – but that goes for any business. Gate takings is one way to measure brand value but that is a very, very small part compared to what the folks with money to spend look at.

    The thing is any business today simply don’t grow their brand value through marketing strategies that only reaches their immediate (geographic) market – that is why all of them have a website and are on social media.

    Similarly, unions’ brand value is not only measured through what, or how many pairs of legs comes through the gates, but how many pairs of eyes watches them around the world.

    The Sharks could not fill their stadium of 50 000 for any match, including CC finals, in the last 5 years – yet with the Stormers and WP they had over a million people watching for a Super Rugby match and just under 800 000 for a Currie Cup match! That is just ONE match.

    They are more successful because they are better than the Cheetahs at marketing their brand, not because they sell more season tickets or match day tickets.

    Where I fundamentally disagree with you is where game-day income are related on how many fans stream through the gates – that is more down to brand-loyalty and performances.

    Your commercial value of the brand (why sponsors gives you millions to have their logo’s on the jersey’s) is down to the millions that watch you on television.

    I am yet to see a commercial (sponsorship) deal concluded on match-day ticket sales.

  49. I think most Union Administrators in SA take supporters for granted, they have never really gone into optimising their market, and that says a lot about how rugby is managed in this country as well.

  50. Just a BTW remark, because I had first
    hand knowledge.

    When SWD reached the CC semis, or was
    it quarters?, under HM they had a
    supporters club, beer tents before
    and after the games and drew many

    Ceres in its heyday (when they beat the
    Maties twice) had the same, plus a gym
    for wives and families, regular little
    bazaars, braais, get togethers on Friday
    nights etc.

    I think this is what one calls marketing.

  51. Reply to Morné @ 9:20 am:

    Read this:


    Also, I remember reading a few years ago about how the MLS (Major League Soccer) made small crowds move together in their stadiums and instructed the television crews to make sure that the packed part of the stadium shows up in the pictures but not the huge tracks of empty seats.

    From that, I deduce that the sport insiders are of the opinion that stadium attendance figures (or images) drives television ratings.

  52. Reply to Timeo @ 4:02 pm:

    This is a very interesting topic!

    “Live” events worldwide is under threat but it is interesting to see how it effects different spheres.

    Enough has been said about NZ and OZ rugby’s empty seats in the last few years and even our own Currie Cup – the amazing thing is television viewing figures are at an all-time high! Even our shortened, strength-v-strength CC format have higher TV viewing figures from last year (not just on average but overall).

    In rugby union itself it is interesting to notice that the top 100 events to see live sees the Hong Kong Sevens in at around 30th, and watching the All Blacks live at about 60th! Other than that union just does not rate as a top live event.

    The obvious question is the quality of the live event but then consider what U2 did recently on their 360 world tour. When I spoke to a guy from Big Concerts in SA he said unlike many other bands, U2 did not use promoters on their tour (guys that pays the band and organises shit in the places they play) but they went at it on their own which is basically unheard of.

    The Edge put his house up to finance this world tour where the band only ‘broke even’ at about their 5th or 6th concert (for what they had to pay for the stage, the folks setting it up, the whole crew basically). But once they broke even they made a pure profit from every other show following which sees The Edge in a position to buy 50 houses.

    The point is, it is not something bands do because there is actually very little money to be made from performing live. You take a massive risk.

    We are sitting in a situation where you have to create some awesome live event, almost something exclusive if you want to compete against what is created visually on television.

    Also note, SA cricket tried this thing about blocking test matches on TV in the cities it was played in to convince people to come watch live. It lasted one season.

    Stadium attendances no doubt adds to the atmosphere of live events for the viewing audience – but I reckon you will find that teams will compromise on costs (ticket prices) for live events to ensure their (commercial product or brand) sells better on TV.

  53. Ja but by analogy, people went to SEE U2 and did not care about the fronting band the preceded them.

    Same with rugby.

    The rugby match is why people go to watch… NOT the music and naked poppies… those just serve to enhance the experience a little bit.

  54. Reply to Morné @ 6:41 pm:

    Your story about the Edge there touch on Test match ticket sales also.

    If it takes 30 000 tickets sold to cover all costs for hosting a Test match then every additional ticket beyond that is pure profit, and 60 000 tickets sold will generate 300% more profit, than 40 000.

    There is an opportunity cost involved in choosing a smaller venue or smaller market for staging the game. The numbers may be small compared to total revenues, but any business manager that chose to forego profits in such a way is not going to be very popular with his investors.

  55. Reply to Morné @ 6:41 pm:

    I’m always skeptical about TV ratings. It is not exact and there are a lot of vested interest for inflating the numbers.

    You may be pretty much ensured that it is inflated.

    It is also difficult to quantify the value of each additional eyeball. They count the channel surfer that stopped for a few minutes out of curiosity just as much as the guy who watched pre-game, game and post-game.

    Stadium attendance is much harder to fake but you should always be prepared to interpret the numbers properly. The Hong Kong sevens is a multi-day event. They count the same guy several times, whereas at your normal test match each attendant is a separate individual.

  56. Reply to Morné @ 6:41 pm:

    Stadium attendances no doubt adds to the atmosphere of live events for the viewing audience
    With all the innovations around we may
    even get to see virtual audiences in my

  57. Reply to Boertjie @ 10:36 pm:

    Ha. Ha. I’ve thought of something like that too.

    If game-day attendance were really irrelevant, what’s to stop a team like the New York Gaints (NFL) from moving to Florida whilst keeping their status as a NY team. The players and coaches will certainly prefer living and playing winter games in Florida. To preserve their NY status, they can play in a walled stadium with no local crowd. NY based billboards all around. Virtual crowd images projected on the walls. Noise over the sound system.

    This will never happen because sports teams are local and local attendance is crucial.

  58. Reply to Timeo @ 9:59 pm:

    It also depends on who you play – 2nd tier teams, lower costs, lower broadcast revenue etc.

    The TV figures I quoted are from Repucom, not SuperSport. TV stats are similar to website stats. I can not only see who visited this website on a monthly, weekly or daily basis – I can see which pages they visited, their average time on each page etc.

    Reply to Boertjie @ 10:36 pm:

    I think we might want to look at the best attended sporting events in the world and try and compare that to rugby. Like I mentioned earlier, it was either Forbes or Nat Geo that listed the top 100 must see events in the world (can’t remember which one) – it is a very interesting list.

  59. Reply to Morné @ 12:53 pm:

    I’m not sure if I understand you correctly here but if I watch TV, the broadcaster have no way of knowing what, or even if, I’m watching.
    They only know if I volunteer to be part of their sample group and have one of their devices installed that reports the information back to them via the telecommunications network.

    Which means, ratings are not an actual count, but rather determined by statistics from samples.

Comments are closed.