The cash-strapped Western Province Rugby Union is set for a potential game-changing R150-million partnership with a private school group that could drastically boost their ailing finances, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Generation Schools, which falls under the portfolio of JSE-listed investment holding company Trematon, is currently in talks with the union about a partnership, which could have school campuses being built on WP Rugby-owned properties at Brookside in Claremont and, possibly, in Oranjezicht.
The deal would involve WP making their property, which is estimated to be worth around R70m, available for Generation Schools to put up the building, which could cost another R80m.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that WP Rugby could get between R30-R50m up front if the deal goes through, which will then be repaid from the equity and revenue generated by the school once it’s up and running.
WP and the private school group would then combine their resources and expertise to provide education, as well as a high-performance rugby environment. The profits from the school will then be shared by WP Rugby and Generation schools as partners.
Kids attending the school on rugby bursaries will also be harder to poach by other unions as well as overseas clubs. One of the conditions of the bursary will be that the players must stay at WP for a couple of years after finishing school. This is the norm in the private sector, where students are obligated to work for their funders for a stipulated period after finishing their studies.
The deal will go a long way in helping WP Rugby out of their current financial jam. WP Rugby still owes Remgro, their former equity partner, almost R50m.
On 14 August, WP Rugby executive member Junaid Moerat, who also serves on the board of the professional arm, presented this plan to the WP Rugby’s general council, which then unanimously gave the green light to explore this option.
Moerat, who has worked in the digital-sports marketing industry for over a decade, declined to comment on the possible deal. However, WP president Zelt Marais confirmed that the union’s stakeholders are keen to explore a partnership with Generation Schools.
‘We have got the intent to explore the deal, but it may take another two to three weeks to investigate to make sure that is financially viable and profitable for us to do so,’ Marais told SARugbymag.co.za.
‘We asked the clubs if we can proceed with negotiations and they said yes. It’s important we do due diligence and to act in the best interest of the union.’
Jevron Epstein, founder and managing director of Generation Schools, is excited about the possibility of partnering with WP Rugby.
Generation Schools, which started in the Western Cape with a campus in Sunningdale in 2016, and also has campuses in Hermanus, Melkbosstrand and Hout Bay, initially wanted to lease the properties two years ago before the deal fell through.
But now Epstein is confident that this ‘mutually beneficial deal’ will happen in the next month or so.
‘The flame was rekindled three to four weeks ago. It seems we are moving in the right direction. We don’t have anything concrete yet, but I do think it could be a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties,’ Epstein said.
‘The partnership would be something that creates unity in South Africa, because it’s education and sport. Our passion is education and WP have the knowledge and know-how of running a high-performance sports institute. It could be a very good marriage.’
Epstein says the school could be built by June, July next year, while the rugby component may be finished by the end of 2020. The school should be fully functional by the time the 2021 school year starts.
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix