SA Rugby president Mark Alexander says the organisation lost hundreds of millions due to the government’s no-crowd policy during the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
South Africa hosted the Lions for an eight-match tour, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic all games were played inside empty stadiums as no crowds were allowed, as per government regulations.
Speaking at the launch of the Champions Match on Wednesday, Alexander said that while they are still working out the exact amount of monetary loss, it is set to be hundreds of million rands.
“We’re talking of hundreds of millions,” he explained. “That said, we’re still busy unfolding those numbers. There are additional costs like booking a whole hotel for the teams, testing protocols and chartering flights.
“We’re still wrapping things up and we’re working out our losses and where we net out. It’s a lot of money.”
Alexander added that SA Rugby lobbied extensively for fans to feature during the series, but that the third wave of Covid-19 infections had made it impossible. However, with the country’s vaccination process well under way he admitted that SA Rugby has started campaigning to have fans back in stadiums again.
“We were on a call [on Tuesday] with the Nedlac working group and a whole lot of stakeholders were talking about getting fans back,” Alexander explained.
“But it’s a process, it’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve learned to live with the new normal. We’d love to have our fans back, they’re so important to what we do.
“Government is starting a process, there’s a lot of talk about looking at what’s happening in Europe. But they have herd immunity, we’re very far from that. We have to still act responsibly. The last thing we want is people attending a game and we create a super-spreader event.”
“We’re just happy that rugby is taking place, that the guys are back on the field,” he added.
“South African rugby makes its money when players play rugby. If we don’t play rugby, it can have a terrible effect on the longevity of our game.”
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix