Alleged racism in KZN rugby not why Absa will cut Shark ties

2010-10-28 00:00

THE termination of Absa’s 11-year association with the Sharks was in no way linked to the recent allegations of racism in KZN rugby.

This was the assurance given by Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl, who said yesterday that the decision of the banking group to drop their sponsorship had “been on the cards for the past year”.

“We had two terms of five years with Absa but their latest contract was for one year only. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that they were considering terminating the contract a year ago.”

Van Zyl said that the letter he had received from Absa this week had stated that “new business priorities” had forced them to reassess their sponsorship deal with the Sharks.

Absa recently took over from Sasol and entered into a sponsorship deal with the SA Rugby Union which is believed to be worth about R65 million a year.

Van Zyl said he could understand the reasons why Absa had terminated the deal, but he was miffed at the way they had done it.

“After being associated with us for 11 years they cut their ties with the Sharks by sending us a short letter. I would have thought they could have at least made a phone call.

“But there was nothing sinister to their decision, there was no link to any allegations of racism or the future of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It was a business decision which we have expected for the last year.”

Meanwhile, the KZN Rugby Union has met with the disgruntled group of rugby officials who were threatening to withdraw black clubs and players from the provincial organisation because of a perceived lack of transformation.

Pete Smith, CEO of the KZN Rugby Union, told The Witness yesterday that a productive meeting had been held last week.

“It was agreed that we should look at ways to include more black officials at council and executive level. This would involve amendments to the constitution and a task committee was formed to consider these changes and how we can increase black representation,” said Smith.

He said that four members of the transformation lobby group and four members of the KZN board would sit on the task committee.

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