Private shareholding of up to 74% of rugby unions approved by Saru

SA Rugby logo crop9 December 2016 - The most notable of the ground-breaking decisions taken by die General Council of South Africa on Friday is the approval that 74% of the shareholding in the commercial arms of rugby unions can now be held by private equity partners.

Another decision which might seem controversial to many is to align the present unions with the country’s geopolitical boundaries by moving to nine members of SA Rugby, while retaining 14 playing unions.

The decision was unavoidable. It is  demanded by Sascoc (the SA Sports Confederation). It will not affect the status quo as far as teams abd coimoetitions are concerned.

Saru in a media release on Friday said that the Council had accepted a raft of constitutional changes that were designed to better reflect the needs of the Springbok team by re-shaping elements of the constitution.

Key changes approved were:

  • Permitting 74% shareholdings in commercial arms of rugby unions by private equity partners
  • Increasing the make-up of the  independent and player representation on the Executive Council to five independents with six elected members
  • Introducing new committees for franchise (Vodacom Super Rugby) and non-franchise rugby to focus and streamline decision making
  • Moving responsibility for the appointment of the Springbok coach and CEO from the General Council to the Executive Council
  • Removing the selection committee while retaining a selection convenor to work with national team coaches
  • Aligning with the country’s geopolitical boundaries by moving to nine members of SA Rugby, while retaining 14 playing unions
  • Reducing the presidential roles from three to two by removing the vice presidency from 2018

“We have made a number of major decisions today that over time we believe will contribute to making South African rugby stronger and therefore assist the Springboks,” said Mr Alexander.

“The Council decided to open the door for greater private equity investment in rugby and greater business involvement to help recapitalise the game.

“We make no secret of the fact that in these tough economic times the rugby business is taking the same strain that every other South African business is facing. There is a battle to find and retain sponsors and supporters and we could not continue to do business in the same way. Rugby needed to make major decisions today to find new ways of doing things today and we have done that.”

Mr Alexander said that the other changes would help streamline and speed up decision-making.

“The creation of the new franchise and non-franchise sub-committees gives us a more nimble way to make decisions by providing a more flexible channel of communication between unions and the Executive Council.

“The old committee structure has been overhauled and the new committees will make us much more responsive to the needs of rugby.

“The other changes bring us more in line with modern business practice by increasing independent representation and removing some of the anachronisms of the amateur era such as a selection committee and vice president.”

A decision on the scheduling of a proposed new format of South Africa’s Premier Domestic competition, the Currie Cup, for a seven-team Premier Division and a nine-team First Division (including Namibia) was deferred until January. 

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