Jurie Roux defends SA Rugby's R23.3m loss in the last financial year

Jurie Roux
Jurie Roux
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux has defended the organisation’s R23.3m loss in the last financial year and is confident that their turnaround strategy will see better financial performances in the coming year.

Despite losing R130m in sponsorship money‚ SA Rugby maintained its support to the 14 member unions‚ which increased by 90% to R336m‚ principally on the back of increased broadcast income‚ as group revenues rose 19.9% to R1.2bn (R997m in 2015).

Competition costs rose 46% to R155m while fees for player image rights and insurance increased almost fourfold from R23.5 million to R87.3 million.

SA Rugby pays R28m to each of the six Super Rugby franchises and R18m to the eight non-Super Rugby unions from the broadcast money earned for the rights to Bok Tests and Super Rugby.

They could have dispersed smaller amounts to the unions in order to balance their own books but Roux said that the SA Rugby could absorb the loss for a year despite the temptation to break even.

“There are many factors to why rugby is having a tough time at the moment‚” Roux told Tiso Blackstar Group (Tiso Black Star Group).

“In terms of the financial results we lost a major sponsor at the 11th hour with two other smaller sponsors and left us in R130m hole.

“Those kinds of sponsorships take 18 months to negotiate and we couldn’t rescue it in a year.

“People are upset with the fact that we called the loss ‘satisfactory’ but the reality is it could have been a lot worse.

“We have a turnaround plan and the fundamental crux of it is that we have to distinguish between professional rugby and semi-professional rugby. Then we can position ourselves where we have a sustainable model for the teams and the amount of players we have in this country.”

Roux‚ though‚ believes that rugby and the unions in particular have to grow the game and improve spectator experiences if they hope to survive in the professional era.

“I have a short answer to how this can be remedied and there are two aspects – performances on the field and experiences off it.

“Let’s first look at the product on the field – there is only one type of rugby – forget about running rugby and so on. It’s winning rugby. Teams have to win and that’s the bottom line.

“Secondly the game day experience is important to engage and bring fans. It mustn’t be difficult to park or to buy food.

“The profile of fans coming to games has changed – 40% of spectators are women. We can’t have stadiums where there are not enough toilets for ladies for an example.

“We have to look at the teams that are playing and how they are playing – so the whole thing is complex but it doesn’t need us to reinvent the wheel.

“I always use the example of the Sydney Cricket Ground. Five years ago a study showed that their average spectator is physically bigger.

“They took out 15000 seats and put in more comfortable seating and improved their facilities. They have a much higher average attendance today.

“We need to look at solutions for rugby holistically because the problems aren’t due to one cause.” — Tiso Black Star Group Digital