SA RUGBY and the Game of Rugby have been at the forefront of change in South African sports over the past decade. Management structures and strategies have continuously been adapted over time to move with changes to the environment and the onset of new challenges. Throughout, however, South African rugby has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the new South Africa, emphasising the role of the sport and the country’s National teams in ensuring patriotism and instilling national pride. Rugby, too, is the only sport that is able to compete and win regularly against the top teams in the world.
One of the key strategies guiding the progress of SA Rugby is Vision 2005, adopted in 2001 following widespread consultation with all rugby stakeholders. Vision 2005 sets out the sport’s ideals for the future, taking into account milestones that must be reached to ensure long-term survival.
SA RUGBY’s vision is for rugby to be a National Sport that represents the aspirations of the Nation through consistent top class performance, thereby bringing the Nation together. SA RUGBY will achieve this by:
- Developing a shared value system that is representative of the Nation
- Being the most professional sports organisation in Africa
- Being the most professional rugby organisation in the world
- Developing world-class playing skills
- Developing world-class management and customer service skills
- Developing world-class strategic alliances
The Vision 2005 strategy is based on four key imperatives - Transformation, Growth, Winning and Financial Sustainability. The four strategic imperatives are based on the balanced needs of SA RUGBY’s stakeholders. They are inter-dependent and therefore success can only be possible if all four are equally achieved.
The Transformation element of Vision 2005 relates to the organisation whereby SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd’s workforce should reflect the country’s demographics, and also to teams where a premium is placed on the opportunity creation to ensure representivity at all levels.
Targets in each area are being met by the implementation of affirmative employment and procurement policies, as well as the implementation of quota systems at all levels, except for the Springboks.
Quotas, which are viewed as a short-term measure, have been highly effective in creating opportunities and proving that there is a wealth of talented black players who, when given the chance, can hold their own at any level. SA RUGBY continuously reviews the targets to be achieved by 2005, through a consultative process involving all stakeholders.
As part of transforming the game, South African rugby is also committed to promoting an understanding of rugby in new markets. This is being assisted by the "Make It Our Game!" marketing and communications strategy that aims to educate people, attract them to attending matches and using various means to inform them about the many elements of the game.
Continuing growth is vital to the future survival of the sport in South Africa. For rugby to be a national sport it must appeal to and be played and/or watched by a significant majority of the South African population. The Growth strategy therefore covers both participants and spectators/supporters. A number of activities are already underway to meet these objective.
It includes the Development and implementation of programmes that will ensure the establishment of sustainable clubs. A full-time Manager: Club Rugby has been appointed with several core projects in place including a club administration handbook and video, the Club Aid Project and Portable Team Training Systems, which converts containers into gyms for use by clubs.
In addition, education and training programmes are in place to hone and develop the skills of coaches, referees and administrators, and a innovative junior and youth rugby policy has been adopted to ensure the on-going growth of the game at schools level.
For rugby to remain a National sport, the Springbok team must retain a good measure of world-class excellence, which is understood to mean a Springbok team that is rated in the top three in the world.
Many programmes are in place to achieve this and SA Rugby has created a National Teams division to manage this process. Amongst the services it provides are: the continuous development of elite coaches through interaction with their counterparts at international level; support services to elite players; and education and career development assistance to top Super 12 and National players.
One of the newest developments in this area is a major new player identification and development strategy that will carry South African rugby through to the 2007 World Cup and aims to deliver the majority of Super 14 and Springbok players.
The programme includes the creation of a National Under-16 rugby week to run concurrently with the existing Coca-Cola Under-18 week. After each national under-16 week, the 100 top players will be selected in a national green squad system. The green squad programme will run through to under-20 level and will ensure that SA Rugby has 500 players - from under-16 level through to under-20 - under their management at all times. There will be continuous assessment, with critical measures for retention and removal of players. The players will be assessed, training programmes will be advised and details kept on a national database through under-17 level.
At the conclusion of every Coca-Cola Under-18 week a new squad will be chosen, which will also allow for late physical developers to force their way in. From this squad, the South African schools and academy teams of 22 players each will be selected for their international games, from which players will be selected for the FIRA Under-19 Junior World Championships. The under-18 and under-19 players whom the selectors feel are potential future Springboks will be placed in a national gold squad, which will never exceed 20 players and will also draw from under-20 and under-21 level.
Another key area is the establishment of rugby academies with the major objective being the delivery of more skilled players, referees and coaches to achieve the vision, with a special emphasis on black players, coaches and referees.
If South African rugby is to achieve its vision it will require sustainable financial resources. Financial sustainability is defined as having an income that exceeds the costs associated with achieving the vision. Revenue from the sale of television rights constitutes the major portion of the gross income of SA RUGBY and loss of this revenue will have a domino effect on the entire rugby funding structure. A key element is ensuring that this key area is addressed has been the restructuring of SA RUGBY and the creation of SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd. Through the maintenance of existing revenue streams and the identification of new revenue streams SA Rugby will be able to ensure that it achieves its Vision 2005 targets.
Amongst the key initiative in this area are the promotion of a joint SANZAR initiative for renewing and improving the Newscorp television rights income, the successful branding and sponsorship of all major tournaments, the creation of successful merchandising and publishing businesses, rationalisation of excessive loss areas through zero-based budgeting principles and the full exploitation of rugby’s commercial potential.
Commercial Highlights Report
A revamped Springbok logo was unveiled in 2003 when SA RUGBY introduced its new logo structure to bring it in line with new National Colours Regulations.
The regulations require that National Colours – which in rugby is a combination of the King Protea and the Springbok – are retained exclusively for international competition at the highest level, including world championships and test matches.
In accordance with the National Colours Regulations, National Federations such as SARFU are entitled to award their own colours, emblems and insignia in matches and/or events that do not involve the Senior National team. National Federations therefore cannot use any one of the National Symbols to identify themselves.
SA RUGBY has used this opportunity to revamp the Springbok logo, which has now undergone its seventh metamorphosis since it first came into being in 1906. On the playing jersey the words Springbok and Springbok Sevens will appear for the respective Senior National Teams.
SA Rugby consolidated its publishing arrangements in 2003 by entering into a five-year deal with leading contract and news stand publisher Highbury Monarch. In addition to being the publisher of all official SA Rugby publications, such as Fifteen magazine, the deal will enable the organization to realize significant saving to its publishing and printing bills. Highbury Monarch has an extensive network of repro and print houses and with the SARFU/SA Rugby work consolidated, this enables them to negotiate strongly on costs with printers.
Amongst the publishing highlights in 2003 was the release of “112 Years of Springbok Rugby: Tests and Heroes”, a 390-page hard cover volume on the history of test rugby in this country. The book encompasses all pre-unity administration bodies – SARB, SARU, SARA and SARFF as well as the unified SARFU. It contains a match report on each and every test match played prior to and after unity in 1992. The book brought to fruition two years of work that involved much research and planning. The project was supported by an editorial panel consisting of historians Paul Dobson (editor), Vuyisa Qunta, Curnock Mdyesha, Harold Wilson, as well as Dougie Dyers and Andre Odendaal.
SA Rugby scored a major coup when it received approval from the Office of the President for President Thabo Mbeki to appear on the cover of the Fifteen RWC special edition wearing a Bok jersey. The eye-catching cover featured the President alongside Bok World Cup captain Corne Krige. The RWC edition was one of four Fifteen’s published in 2003. The magazine continues to play an important role in the rugby market and has undergone significant improvement since being taken over by Highbury Monarch.
The 2004 edition of the SA Rugby Annual was the best-produced over the past six years. The 544-page full colour volume contained its array of regular features on the highs and low of the season as well as the biographies of the 691 first class players, full details of every Springbok test and a review of the season in schools, club and women’s rugby.
The official website of SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd teamed-up with the SuperSport Zone with the aim of improving the online offering and boosting its bandwidth and reach.
www.sarugby.net is being given an overhaul by SA Rugby’s on-line design and promotions division, whilst SuperSport Zone have redeveloped the “back-end” of the site to improve its depth of content and simplify site navigation.
The www.sarugby.net will soon revert to www.sarugby.co.za which will become the Official SA Rugby domain name.
The site has grown considerably in size over the past few and whilst www.sarugby.net retains its identity and independence it will be hosted on the SuperSport Zone server, which will improve speed of navigation.
The editorial capacity of the site has been greatly enhanced with SA Rugby’s website Development Team drawing input from the SuperSport editorial desk that is manned 21 hours a day. In addition, there is our unique content that will cover the full spectrum of the game, from the Springboks to schools rugby. There will also be shared features such as live scoring and player profiling that will be drawn from a central database”.
Further developments are custom sponsor pages detailing dates and activities that the SA Rugby sponsors have planned in above the line and below the line media campaigns.
Please Note: More info will follow on the Annual Report for 2005!