Boks' cash cow haemorrhages money
NEWS: Springbok coach and South African Rugby Union Director of Rugby Johan Erasmus described it as an opportunity to 'improve their bank balance'.
It now turns out the company behind the much-talked about, historic Test between SA and Wales in Washington, America, in June is haemorrhaging money and facing bankruptcy.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, the international is feared to be in 'serious doubt' as unrest grows due to "miserable ticket sales and the impending collapse of the company staging the fixture"- partly funded by the Rugby Football Union and struggling Premiership outfit Harlequins.
The match was set up by a promotional company, which has RFU Chief Executive Stephen Brown as a board member.
But as that company, Rugby International Marketing, haemorrhages money - with a staggering £3-million (US$4.2-million) lost by the end of 2017 - there are grave concerns surrounding the Test.
The Mail also reports that the RFU may be forced to abandon the venture with RIM, amid fears of the company's doomed future.
"The RFU is a minority shareholder in RIM," a spokeswoman told the newspaper.
"We are aware of the situation and are considering our position."
Wales and South Africa have reportedly also had their original match fee of £720,000 (US$1-million) reduced to £540,000 (US$750,000).
The newspaper claims the Test may need around 27,000 supporters to turn up at the 46,000-capacity RFK Stadium to break even.
But with only handfuls of tickets sold and less than six weeks until kick-off, there have been high-level discussions at United States Rugby about changing the date, venue and even the teams for the Washington fixture - with Wales or South Africa playing the US Eagles instead.
The newspaper claims to have seen US Rugby meeting minutes from February and March - which not only detail major distress among board members, but also the fact that the US Rugby Players Association (USRPA) lodged a formal objection to the Wales-South Africa match being staged before the game was announced on February 26.
In February's minutes USA Rugby chairman of the board Will Chang - an investor in the San Francisco Giants Major League baseball team, whose AT&T Park stadium will host the World Cup Sevens tournament in July - noted his concern.
Chang said that when he was originally approached about the event he expressed 'sincere scepticism', but commented he would not object if staging the Wales match was thought to be in the best interests of RIM.
During the March 7 meeting the board were asked to 'revisit the approval to provide USA Rugby sanctioning of the Wales versus South Africa match in June, 2018' due to financial trouble at RIM, and objections from the USRPA and 'from key members of the philanthropic arm of USA Rugby'.
Industry experts have also expressed fears to Sportsmail that the game may collapse with no proper American broadcast deal.
Add to that the fact that both sides are set to leave out high-profile names for the Test - with South Africa prioritising their three-match England series in the weeks after, and Wales resting key Lions including captain Alun Wyn Jones - a perfect storm is brewing.
Source: The Daily Mail