Super Rugby teams must ride Bok wave

While the Springboks’ World Cup win may get people back to stadiums to watch Super Rugby, the chief executives of the four franchises need a fresh, diverse approach in their marketing strategies, writes JOHN GOLIATH.

Summer is here, but rugby is still top of South Africa’s sporting agenda following the Springboks’ World Cup win.

The country is still buzzing from the trophy tour, which saw people from all races and all walks of life line the streets to pay homage to the world champions.

You feel that this is the sort of platform for SA Rugby to re-energise Super Rugby in South Africa, especially when it comes to getting new fans to the stadiums. The trophy tour should have been an indication that there is a new market to tap into.

Obviously results play a big part in getting people to the stadiums, but the entertainment at Super Rugby matches around the country is out-dated and bland. It’s the same old songs during the breaks in play. The same half-time activations – if any. And there seems to be an over-reliance on pom-pom girls to be the biggest drawcard.

I was at a Super Rugby match at Newlands last year where Dire Staits’ Sultant of Swing played during one of the injury stoppages. I mean, it’s a great song when you’re sitting at home with friends with an oxtail potjie simmering on the coals. But at Newlands, during the Stormers’ biggest rugby match of the Super Rugby season? No guys, no.

The same thing happened at Loftus Versfeld, when the playlist took us back to the 70s and 80s. It also doesn’t help the stadium announcer shouts at everyone in the stadium.

‘Can someone please turn the Loftus stadium announcer’s mic down? He is embarrassing the whole Southern Hemisphere,’ was one rugby’s scribe’s reaction on Twitter during a match.

Going into 2020, they can’t expect to get people back to the stadium with the same entertainment. SA Rugby’s marketing team has actually led the way over the last few years. The music and entertainment inside the stadium has been superb and as diverse as the crowd they want to attract.

Most of the CEOs running rugby in this country are white, and give off the impression that they are dinosaurs in terms of their thinking about making money in South Africa in 2019.

The black market hasn’t really been explored. Supporters such as the Gwijo Squad have brought a different vibe to the game, but none of the four Super Rugby franchises have jumped on the concept of non-stop singing and dancing during rugby matches.

We can’t still be listening to Sultans of Swing in 2019 at a live game, can we?

We already saw the regurgitation of the superhero concept that brought a bit of life to the competition last year. Surely there was a different angle for this year?

Attendances have dropped at rugby matches over the last few years, not only because of the South African teams’ struggles, but because they haven’t been able to cater to black rugby fans, as well as the new generation of rugby supporters.

The Boks have embraced diversity and they have won over millions of new supporters and fans. It’s time for chief executives and the marketing people at the Super Rugby franchises to do the same.

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John Goliath