FNB Varsity Cup cuts ties with Steinhoff International

NTOMBI MKANDHLA & CAITLYN WALSH

Only a short while after announcing their decision to withdraw as sponsors from South Africa’s national rugby 7’s team, the Blitzboks, Steinhoff International cut ties with FNB Varsity Cup. This was confirmed in a statement released by FNB Varsity Cup on 10 January. Steinoff International was a second tier sponsor for the FNB Varsity Cup annual inter-varsity rugby tournament.

The ending of the partnership between Steinhoff International and FNB Varsity Cup was a result of the financial crash of the stock price in the retail company. Times Live reports that in December 2017, Steinhoff International reported “accounting irregularities”, resulting in its market value falling by approximately 85% or the equivalent of R187 billion. SA Rugby Mag adds that the revelation of the company’s financial woes resulted in their stock price rapidly descending by 61%.

CEO of Steinhoff International, Markus Jooste, was forced to step down from his position towards the end of 2017 due to possible fraud and monetary irregularities.

In their statement, FNB Varsity Cup management has confirmed this withdrawal and assured fans that they are already searching for different sponsors. They also declared that attention is still focused on the talent growth and development of the players, regardless of sponsorship uncertainty. The statement adds that a process of “exploring alternative sponsorship to sustain the spotlight on talent development” has taken place. First National Bank still remains the main sponsor of the FNB Varsity Cup with Steers being the largest additional sponsor.

The tournament will still continue with all four competitions; these being the FNB Varsity Cup, the Young Guns, the Varsity Shield and the Koshuis Rugby despite the withdrawal of Steinhoff International. For 2018, the UP Young Guns will face off against the Wits Young Guns at the NMU Stadium in Port Elizabeth on 2 February. In the Koshuis Rugby championship’s first round, Maroela will battle it out with Maties’ Huis Marais at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

Kick off for the 11th FNB Varsity Cup inter-varsity rugby tournament is anticipated to start 29 January at the Tuks Stadium with defending champions FNB UP Tuks facing FNB Shimlas. Quoted by Times Live, the CEO of FNB Varsity Cup, Duitser Bosman, promises the public that preparations for the inter-varsity rugby competition are “at an advanced stage”. In addition, Bosman confirmed that management is working hard to make certain that 2018’s competition will be a hit for all concerned.

Since its inception in 2008, the FNB Varsity Cup tournament still features South Africa’s top 16 university rugby teams in contest to be number one on the rugby field. The FNB Varsity Cup rugby which holds nine university rugby teams has mainly been dominated by Stellenbosch University’s FNB Maties, the University of Cape Town’s FNB Ikey Tigers, the University of Free State’s FNB Shimlas and the University of Pretoria’s FNB UP Tuks. FNB UP Tuks and FNB Maties have won most of the tournament’s titles.

The media launch of the FNB Varsity Cup’s 2018 tournament was held on 23 January at the FNB Conference Centre in Sandton.

According to SA Rugby Mag, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux told the publication that SA Rugby is also in the process of finding a new sponsor. Roux also said that the national sevens team will have #LoveRugby on their jerseys until a new sponsor is secured.

 

Illustration: Sally Hartzenberg

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