Rugby sponsors jump ship

Stephen Nell

Cape Town - With the end of the local rugby season in sight there is still no clarity about who will be the new main sponsors of Western Province and Free State Cheetahs next year.

Vodacom’s sponsorship of both unions is running out, while the Sharks also announced on Tuesday that Absa decided to end an association of 11 years as stadium naming rights-holder.

This means that the Shark Tank will be the Absa Stadium for the last time in Saturday’s Currie Cup final between the Sharks and WP.

“The termination of the sponsorship means that The Sharks will now be in the hunt to find a new sponsor ahead of next year’s Super Rugby Tournament,” the Sharks said in a statement.

Sport24 understands the decision on the stadium sponsorship points to a shift in emphasis in Absa’s strategy with regards to sponsorships. Absa are going to sponsor the Springboks from next year, while they also sponsor the Currie Cup competition.

Meanwhile, Free State Rugby Union president Harold Verster told Sport24 that they are close to finalising a new sponsor.

“It’s just about finalised, but still confidential,” said Verster.

He also emphasised that it was difficult to obtain sponsorship in the current market.

“There are a number of renewals in the market. The economy is tough and companies also invested a lot of money in soccer.”

Meanwhile, the Cape rugby community is looking forward to the unveiling of a new sponsorship at the Stormers and WP. Rob Wagner, managing director of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, did not return calls on the issue on Tuesday.

While there have been rumours of companies that WP have been negotiating with, no announcement has been forthcoming.

However, WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd board chairperson Pat Kuhn said that he was positive that good news was around the corner.

“We’re busy with it, but nothing has been finalised. We’re confident that things will happen,” said Kuhn.
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