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MTN seeks to extend headline Springboks sponsorship

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

South African telecoms operator MTN is set to renew its headline sponsorship of the Springboks, South Africa’s world championship-winning rugby union team.

According to South African press sources, renewal talks between the brand and the South African Rugby Union had begun before the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, corporate affairs executive with MTN SA, told the City Press news service: “We had already decided that we would be seeking to renew, [the sponsorship] whether the Boks had won or not. The reason being that we have seen how this sponsorship, from a national perspective and from an internal perspective, has absolutely brought people together.”

O’Sullivan added: “Even if we had not won it still would have been an amazing investment because our people are learning from what they are seeing, from people like [team coach] Rassie Erasmus who are world-class leaders not just world-class coaches.

“Apart from the amazing win, the leadership that Rassie has shown, the sense of team and camaraderie … it has been the most wonderful example to corporate South Africa.”

SA Rugby’s general manager for corporate affairs, Andy Colquhoun, added that “discussions were taking place” between the two organisations.

MTN’s previous there-year deal, from 2017 to 2019, was reportedly worth between R40m ($2.7m/€2.4m) and R50m per year.

The deal included branding on the front of the Springbok jerseys in all competitive matches, except the Rugby World Cup.

MTN took over the rights in 2017 when South Africa rugby was in a slump both on and off the pitch.

Read this: Switch in sponsorship fortunes for SA cricket and rugby

The previous headline sponsor, telco rival, Blue Label Telecoms, committed to a three-Test sponsorship in June 2016, and extended for one series of the southern hemisphere’s leading national team competition, the Rugby Championship.

The first Blue Label Telecoms deal followed the exit of long-term sponsor, banking group Absa, which had paid about R100m per year for the Springboks jersey rights in a five-year deal from 2011 to 2015.