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Monday, January 16, 2006


Rugby Administration: Are the Cheetahs being given a raw deal from SARU?

In a spat that is fairly mild by South African rugby administration standards but might seem of seismic proportions in Australia, the ARU has hit back at the Western Force's claims that it is 'not serious about expanding the code'.

The Perth based Western Force's Chief Executive, Peter O'Meara, was reportedly fairly scathing last week in his criticism of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

O'Meara, reacting to news that the ARU has cut the WF's annual grant from A$300k to A$200k, accused the national body of not being serious about spreading the game, comparing them disfavourably with the effort that League are making.

He went on to claim that considering 20 000 Perth fans had signed up as members of the franchise, the ARU should be doing more to promote the game.

The ARU were having none of it however, with ARU boss, Gary Flowers saying, "The Force is one of the great success stories and we have put a lot of time, money and effort into that."

"We are putting resources into the new team but we don't have a bottomless pit of money. We wish that was the case but it isn't. We are contributing to the new team and the new start around $4.5m to $5m (R22.8m). In an ideal world there could be more resources applied but we don't have them."

Considering the sums mentioned by Flowers, nearly R23m, it begs the question as to what SARU are doing in financial terms to help the Free State Cheetahs this year and the Southern Spears next year?

Whilst it is not clear whether Flowers is referring to direct investment, the figure quoted is still a staggering amount.

Throw in the 20 000 signed, and paid for, members (Diamond, Gold and Silver packages are no longer available, such has been the strong demand. Only Iron and Nickel are available) with Iron prices starting at A$175 and Gold at A$395 and the Western Force would appear to hold a massive financial advantage over it's South African counterpart.

Conservatively, if we counted all 20 000 memberships as Iron, that would provide an approximate extra A$3.5m (R16m) per annum, so the real sum is significantly higher.

Additionally the Western Australian government has granted the Western Force's stadium, Members Equity Stadium, A$24m for redevelopment and given a A$1.5 million grant in order to assist in establishing the Western Force in the Super 14 competition.

So, to recap, and I must stress that I cannot guarantee these figures are 100% accurate but they are in the public domain and on that basis I'll use them for the sake of argument;

ARU claimed investment: A$5m
ARU annual grant: A$200k
Membership packages: A$3.5m
WA government grant: A$1.5m

Without discussing sponsors at all, this gives the Western Force a A$10.2m starting bonanza, that is R46.5 million. Without discussing the international airline, Emirates, naming jersey sponsorship or the more than 250 companies who have applied for corporate hospitality.

Oh, I can hear some of you murmering, what about Purchasing Power Parity, you can't just convert from Australian Dollars and quote a South African Rand figure - cost of living, inflation and all that.

Fair enough, so let's dont. Let's simply make a direct comparison.

The Western Force have a R10.2 million start to their Super 14 adventure, without including corporate hospitality and sponsorships or a massive R24m (PPP, remember!) stadium upgrade.

Okay, the outstanding 20 000 signed up members is from the sweat of the Force's brow, an Australian record by the way, eclipsing the Brumbies previous best, around 12 000.

Now, I ask myself, how much sympathy does the Free State Cheetahs boss have for the Western Force's Peter O'Meara?

Information sources: The Sydney Morning Herald, , , The Universal Currency Converter,
Pity the Saru bosses won't read this, even if you mail it or hold it under their noses.
It could be useful for the Central Cheetahs though.
As many have said before: Saru knows zilch about marketing and running rugby as a business - and the players and the fans are left with the spoils.
Why does a banquet @ R1500 per head suddenly jump to mind?
or an office at R100k a month from a company belonging to the same person renting the office!

Having said all of that, the Free State does not come out clean on this either, thousands of R wasted on courtcases and a bungled Klub 300 are just two of the prime examples of them wasting money...
We have a lot to learn about packaging rugby as a product.

Not just a lot

VERY MUCH a lot...
Whichever way you look at it, the Cheetahs will NOT be starting on a level playing field with the Western Force.  
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