Financial 'caution' urged over Boks' US Test

Mark Alexander (Gallo Images)
Mark Alexander (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Springboks' maiden, neutral-turf top-tier Test outside of a World Cup against Wales in Washington DC on June 2 "will be viable".

READ: Cash-strapped SARU stick to 'same old'

That was the assurance of South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander to Sport24 after some concern was expressed at their annual meeting late last week over financial risks involved.

Hein Mentz, auditor by trade and boss of the Pumas - later elected to the executive council - said the organisation needed to "learn our lesson" after a not-dissimilar overseas Springbok venture, against the Barbarians at Wembley in November 2016, had cost the organisation more than R7-million.

SARU posted a loss of R33.3-million for the 2017 financial year.

But Alexander, re-elected to the hot seat for a four-year tenure, said at a press briefing immediately after the annual meeting: "We have signed a contract; we will get our money out (of the Test). It will be a viable undertaking.

"With a Baabaas (non-Test) game there is always some risk, some guaranteed income.

"This one doesn’t involve risk; there is guaranteed income coming from the Wales Test.

"All the countries in the world have these extra Tests to make money."

Explaining his reservations afterwards, Mentz said: "I was just a bit concerned that the method we used for the Barbarians game (drawn 31-31 - Sport24), at the end of the day, was costly ... it cost us in excess of R7 million.

"All I was saying was basically that I hope we learned our lesson (at Wembley); we cannot afford another loss of R7 million. We mustn't go into the negative financially.

"Did we learn enough not to fall into the same trap?"

Mentz said he was "certainly not against the Test in the USA, per se", adding that it just having Test status was a reassuring factor.

"I understand this is forex coming in for us in dollars ... we must just make quite sure this time it's a positive exercise, not a negative.

"I get the logic of taking a game overseas like this; it's a chance for us, like Wales, to make money from a different constituency.

"But do your homework to make sure you reap financial benefit."

READ: Wales to face Springboks in November

The event hosts for the Springboks v Wales Test are Rugby International Marketing (RIM), the commercial arm of USA Rugby.

When the Test was announced in February, SARU CEO Jurie Roux said: "Our research shows that the Springboks have a growing worldwide fan base and we see the match in Washington as ideal platform to tap into a market that offers huge possibilities for South African rugby."

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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