Elmar Conrdie (FlySafair CEO) with Springbok players Uzair Cassiem, Siya Kolisi, Elton Jantjies, Ruan Combrinck and Damian de Allende with FlySafair personel during the SA Rugby and FlySafair media briefing at O.R. Tambo International Airport on March 29, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image by: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images
The meeting saw the finalisation of an agreement to allow SA Rugby to nominate where future Tests will be played when rugby’s global calendar kicks in‚ in 2020.
It’s part of far-reaching constitutional changes announced last December.
Chief executive Jurie Roux outlined that with the Test agenda set until 2032‚ SA Rugby through its new franchise and non-franchise (professional and non professional) committees‚ would come up with a mechanism to allocate Test matches.
“The global season has been agreed at World Rugby by all its members and that gives us clarity‚” Roux told the Times Media Group.
“The Test rugby calendar has been set until 2032‚ so we know who and where we are going to play with the exception of matches against tier two nations.
“That gives us the chance to now allocate Tests for 14 years and today we ratified a big constitutional change which gives SA Rugby control of Test matches.
“We can now take big Tests overseas if it makes commercial sense‚ and we can decide where to host Test matches locally.
“But it will be done through those committees‚ which do have provincial representation.”
Roux revealed that in 2016 Brazil had made a lucrative offer to the Springboks to play against the All Blacks in Rio in the build up to the 2016 Olympic Games.
But the proposal arrived too late to make it a reality. The chief executive said that any decision to take Springbok ‘home’ Tests overseas would be made with the welfare of the local rugby community first.
“A decision of that nature would happen around the allocation criteria‚” Roux said.
“If we use a four-year allocation cycle‚ maybe one year will be set aside to play the All Blacks somewhere in the world for the commercial good of the local game.
“You’d have to weigh the financial benefits against the fact that your own fans might not have the chance to see the Springboks versus the All Blacks in their own country.
“That’s a fine balance and I don’t know where the critical point lies at this moment.
“Fortunately‚ it can be planned well in advance because of the new calendar and everyone will know what the perimeters are.”
Obviously for the Springboks to be a commercial drawcard in the next two decades performances need to improve‚ something president Mark Alexander vowed is top of the agenda.
The Boks are currently ranked seventh in the world‚ after starting 2016 as the world’s third ranked team.
“Let’s not beat about the bush: it turned out to be the toughest and most challenging year in a quarter of a century – both on and off the field‚” Alexander said.
“The fortunes of our business are chiefly determined by one over-riding factor: the performance of the flagship team. The form of the Springboks in 2016 was at its lowest ebb since rugby unity in 1992.
“The new era and new dawn we had all hoped for failed to materialise. But 2017 will be different.
“We have now held three coaching and two conditioning indabas and developed a coaching blueprint bought into by all our Super Rugby coaches.
“I would once again like to commend Johan Ackermann‚ Nollis Marais‚ Franco Smith‚ Deon Davids‚ Robert du Preez and Robbie Fleck for their fantastic co-operation‚ insight and support in this process.
“It has the potential to be truly game-changing for SA Rugby.”
Alexander said he hoped off field changes‚ approved in December‚ would have a similar impact.
Those changes included the opening of rugby to greater business influence by allowing equity partnerships of up to 74% in the commercial arms of unions; the creation of a new fit-for-purpose committee structure as well as an increase in independent representation on the Executive Council.
The rollout of a 100-day plan had also addressed multiple issues including a revision of domestic competitions; the preparation of a Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign plan; the development of a fan engagement strategy and of a new licensing model for participation in competitions.
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport