As the saying goes, “everyone wants to be associated with a winner”, and it is no different for current rugby world cup champions, the Springboks whose incredible win at the Rugby World Cup has not only made them the world’s rugby number but a team whose brand has increased in value.
One of the team’s main sponsors has committed to sticking with the newly minted world champions – but MTN was at pains to stress that talks began before the World Cup even started..
MTN SA’s chief executive Godfrey Motsa made the announcement of the sponsorship continuing during day one of the team’s five-day Trophy Tour, which saw them make a stop-over at the cellular network’s head offices in Fairland on Thursday afternoon.
MTN SA’s corporate affairs executive Jacqui O’Sullivan told City Press that talks between her company and the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) of the former “retaining sponsorship” of the current world rugby champions, began before the world cup started in September.
“They are now the world champions, people with global recognition and all businesses now will be forced to associate themselves with the global brand that is the Springboks,
“We had already decided that we would be seeking to renew, [the sponsorship] whether the Boks had won or not. The reason being that we have seen how this sponsorship, from a national perspective and from an internal perspective, has absolutely brought people together,” she said.
The sea of green and gold at the MTN offices could be seen from the sky as fans screamed their support for the boys who did the nation proud and triumphed in Japan winning 32-12 against England in the final match.
MTN announced its headline three-year sponsorship of the national rugby team in 2017.
“When we were approached by SA Rugby nobody was signing the Springboks because they were not doing well. It was a bit of a bleak time in the Springbok’s history and they were really battling to get a corporate sponsor,” O’Sullivan said.
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“Our chief operations officer at the time [Enzo Scarcella], signed a contract with the Springboks but it was a hard sell to convince MTN that these guys under Rassie Erasmus were going to be world champions but we were really confident that it was going to be money well spent and they have proven tenfold that is the case.”
At the time, it was reported that the MTN SA’s sponsorship deal with SA Rugby, was worth between R40 million and R50 million a year.
Captain of the team, Siya Kolisi, told supporters who were gathered at the MTN offices that he was grateful for MTN’s belief in the team.
“I wish to take this moment to thank team MTN for backing us two years ago during a very difficult period for us a team. You guys enabled us to live our dreams and play rugby. Thank you to all of you working in the offices, we really appreciate your support, so thank you so much,” he told cheering fans.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi greets excited fans at the MTN head offices in Randburg during the team's 5-day trophy tour.
O’Sullivan went on to explain some of the perceptions that were of hindrance to the Springboks at the time.
“There was a sense that transformation hadn’t progressed the way it should; politically they didn’t have the support they needed.”
She added that whether the team had won or not, MTN SA “still would have renewed the sponsorship deal”.
“Apart from the amazing win, the leadership that Rassie has shown, the sense of team and camaraderie ... it has been the most wonderful example to corporate South Africa,” she told City Press.
“Even if we had not won it still would have been an amazing investment because our people are learning from what they are seeing, from people like Rassie Erasmus who are world class leaders not just world class coaches.”
However O’Sullivan could not reveal the worth of the new sponsorship deal as the two parties “are still in talks.”
When we were approached by SA Rugby nobody was signing the Springboks because they were not doing well. It was a bit of a bleak time in the Springbok’s history and they were really battling to get a corporate sponsor,
It was a statement corroborated by SA Rugby’s general manager for corporate affairs, Andy Colquhoun, who told City Press that “discussions were taking place” between the two organisations.
According to isiXhosa rugby commentator for SuperSport, Makhaya Jack, because of their current status, the Springboks will have a number of businesses knocking at their door.
“They are now the world champions, people with global recognition and all businesses now will be forced to associate themselves with the global brand that is the Springboks,” he told City Press.
“More sponsors will be coming to the Boks especially since they displayed such a wonderful brand of rugby.”