Prudent Pumas accept Springboks-All Blacks Test is dead and move on

Pieter Burger (Pumas - Facebook)
Pieter Burger (Pumas - Facebook)
  • Smart budgeting has allowed the Pumas to mitigate some of the financial losses it will suffer from not being able to host this year's Springboks-All Blacks Test.
  • Due to the international fixture list being announced relatively late, the union didn't budget for the potential windfall, assisting them in not making unnecessary expenses.
  • Pieter Burger, outgoing CEO, though admits that it's still a big setback as the revenue from the event would've resulted in a nice cash boost.
  • He's also confident that the Pumas will in future remain a host of choice for big matches.

Prudent budgeting has spared the Pumas a bigger financial fall-out from being denied the opportunity to host the Springboks and All Blacks Test in 2020.

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Jurie Roux, SA Rugby's chief executive, on Tuesday confirmed that no international rugby would be played on South African shores for the rest of the year owing to Covid-19 restrictions, with the national team now earmarked to play the Rugby Championship in a bio-bubble in New Zealand at the end of the year.

The Pumas - or rather its parent, the Mpumalanga Rugby Union - had won the right to showcase the money-spinning showdown at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on 26 September, but the rise of the virus put the fixture in peril from the outset.

Pieter Burger, the franchise's outgoing chief, initially expressed deep fears over the implications of the Test being cancelled though the certainty is now liberating.

"The thing that saved us in the end is the fact that SA Rugby announced the international fixture list relatively late this year," he told Sport24 on Thursday.

"As a result, the Test's confirmation was too late to be included in our budget. So we at least didn't spend money that, in the end, we didn't have. In these trying times, that's at least something positive."

Not that the Pumas aren't bitterly disappointed with the eventual if inevitable outcome.

"I won't beat around the bush, not being able to host the game is still a big setback," said Burger.

"The income we would've derived from the event would've been a valuable windfall. However, if there's anything that the pandemic has taught us it's that nothing in life is certain. 

"This is the hand we've been dealt and we move on. At least the reports of the Rugby Championship being played at the end of the year is a heartening development. At least we'll be able to see some on-field action."

Burger, who commences his role as the new managing director of Ellis Park Stadium (Pty) Ltd. next month, believes he and his compact, dedicated staff have shown enough organisational ability in the past for the Pumas to keep being considered as a host for premium international matches.

"I truly hope we'll be able to retain our status as a union worthy of being awarded big games. Our strategies have been clear for many years now and I'm proud of the stability we've achieved."

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