South Africans are rugby mad. On any given match day, men, women and children can be seen wearing rugby jerseys and reveling in the green and gold, the colours worn by the Springboks, South Africa’s national team and current holders of the World Cup.
Both the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the actual game of rugby have been at the forefront of change on the South African sports scene over the past ten years, and management structures and strategies in SARU have continuously evolved to keep up with changes and challenges on the South African playing field.
SARU is committed to the new South Africa, constantly emphasizing the role of the sport and the country’s national teams in encouraging patriotism and instilling national pride in people from all walks of life. Rugby is also one sport in which South African teams compete with – and regularly beat – the top teams from around the globe.
SARU is the umbrella brand for:
- The Springboks
- Vodacom Super Rugby
- Currie Cup
- SA Under 20 (Junior Springboks)
- Springbok Sevens
- Springbok Women
- Springbok Women Sevens
- Gold Cup
The organisation believes that continual growth is vital to the future of the sport in South Africa. For rugby to be a national sport it must appeal to – and be played or watched by – a significant percentage of the South African population. SARU has formulated a growth strategy that covers both participants and supporters, and a number of activities are already underway to meet these objectives.
The strategy includes the development and implementation of programmes to establish sustainable rugby clubs. In addition, education and training programmes are in place to develop and hone the skills of coaches, referees and administrators. An innovative junior and youth rugby policy has also been adopted to ensure the on-going growth of the game at school level.
After soccer, rugby is the most popular sport in South Africa with a following of close to ten million in a population of 44 million. With such a significant market share, SARU aims to grow the brand in a manner that will encourage more sponsorship, translating into increased turnover. With more money to put back into the sport, SARU can increase its appeal among prospective young players and create more winning teams.
- In 1995 the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home soil, the first time they had ever participated in the contest. They repeated this feat in 2007 in France.
- The Springboks won the Castle Tri-Nations in 1998, 2004 and 2009. From 2012, the competition changed to the Castle Rugby Championship, incorporating Argentina.
- SA Under 21’s won the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Championships in South Africa in 2002, the first time the competition was held. They repeated the feat in 2005.
- SA Under 19’s became the first IRB World Champions in their age group when the competition was open to the world in Paris in 2003. They repeated this feat as hosts in 2005.
- SA Under 20’s, now named the Junior Springboks, won the IRB Junior World Championship (for Under-20's) in 2012 when SARU hosted the tournament in South Africa.
- The Springbok Sevens team, multiple tournament winners, took the the IRB’s World Sevens Series crown for 2008/09.
- The Vodacom Bulls became the first South African side to win Vodacom Super Rugby when they defeated the Sharks in the final in 2007. The Bulls, from Pretoria, won this competition again in 2009 and in 2010.
The product is rugby – the sport, its participants on the field and in the stands, the generation of future players and the maintenance of the excellent teams SARU already has in its stable.
Four key imperatives underpin SARU’s values: Transformation, growth, winning and financial sustainability. These are based on the needs of all SARU’s stakeholders and are inter-dependent. Therefore, success is only possible if all four are equally realized.
In a country that thrives on sunshine and sport, SARU is providing light to an arena previously shadowed by political challenges. As the teams get stronger and fans fill the stadiums, the whole country is a little better off for the spirit generated when a South African hero scores a try.
Things you didn’t know about SARU
- The Springboks’ first game at home was in 1891 against the British Isles in Port Elizabeth.
- The Springboks’ first game abroad was against Scotland in Glasgow in 1906.
- Local rugby heroes Victor Matfield (127), Bryan Habana (117), John Smit (111), Jean de Villiers (109) and Percy Montgomery (102) have played the most Tests for South Africa.
- John Smit became the most experienced Test captain of all time when he led the Boks for the 60th time in a Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Durban in August 2009. He captained the team 83 times.
Note: Adapted from Superbrands Volume One