Currie Cup too white - ABSA

JJ Harmse

Johannesburg – ABSA, one of the South African Rugby Union's (SARU) biggest sponsors, are upset over several of the predominantly white teams in the Currie Cup.

ABSA's primary concern regards SARU's "serious lack of commitment to transformation" which resulted in SARU president Oregan Hoskins sending a letter to all unions in which he requested the matter be dealt with.

In the letter, which was sent earlier this week to the provincial presidents of the 14 unions and executive heads and of which Beeld has obtained a copy, Hoskins asked his members (provinces) to deal with the apparent lack of transformation with immediate effect.

Hoskins confirmed that ABSA, as current and future sponsors of rugby, are among other grievances, unhappy about the lack of transformation in rugby in South Africa.

ABSA sponsor the Currie Cup and will also be the new Springbok jersey sponsors after the current contract with Sasol expires at the end of the year, although this still has to be officially announced.

"Up until now only politicians complained about the lack of black players in our teams, but now, for the first time, a sponsor has also expressed concern," wrote Hoskins.

"If our sponsors feel moved to get involved in this aspect of the game, it's a clear cause for tremendous concern."

Hoskins also confirmed in the letter that ABSA will be the new sponsors of the Springbok jersey.

"We recently signed a memorandum of understanding with ABSA to become the sponsors of our national team for the next five years."

"The make-up of our teams therefore directly threatens our ability to keep the support of businesses," warned Hoskins.

Hoskins singled out specifically the Lions, Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs.

The letter went on to state that Johan Prinsloo, executive head of SARU, recently also raised the issue of transformation in a letter to the unions.

Happy Ntshingila, ABSA's executive director for marketing and corporate affairs, said the company supports SARU's attempts to promote transformation in rugby, reports Daniëlla du Plooy.

"As sponsors we would like to see the acceleration of transformation in rugby and we will support all attempts to get this going," Ntshingila said.

Ntshingila praised SARU's attempts to promote the sport in the townships.

"But we believe transformation can't be limited to the playing field, it has to reach every level of society," he concluded.
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