MTN is set to sign a four-year Springbok sponsorship deal with SA Rugby, worth between R40-million and R50-million a year. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company will become the official team sponsor, with the MTN logo appearing on the front of the jersey.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that the deal includes an incentive element that could see SA Rugby receive up to R60-million from MTN per year, depending on how many matches the Boks win.
MTN's biggest rival in the telecommunications industry, Vodacom, which has sponsored South African rugby since 1994, will presumably be furious about the deal, which will be announced only a few days before the new Test season.
While Vodacom declined SA Rugby's invitation to be the official Bok team sponsor, it remains an associate sponsor of the team, and sponsors the Super Rugby tournament in South Africa and the Bulls.
With Super Rugby set to be reduced from 18 teams to 15 next season, Vodacom will renegotiate its sponsorship agreement with SA Rugby. It will be interesting to see whether Vodacom decides to pull its entire sponsorship amid the controversy of the MTN deal.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that while Vodacom could legally fight MTN's deal with SA Rugby, it will probably opt to leave South African rugby amicably and not take any action that could damage the Bok brand.
While SA Rugby no doubt values its relationship with Vodacom, the organisation's perilous financial situation means it cannot turn MTN away.
SA Rugby is set to announce the MTN sponsorship deal next Wednesday or Thursday.
The Boks will wear the MTN-branded jerseys for the first time against France in Pretoria on 10 June.
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