Update: SA Rugby has confirmed MTN’s sponsorship.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) says that Vodacom is to step away from its sponsorship rights of the Springbok team to allow SA Rugby to negotiate with other telecommunications companies.
Vodacom has sponsored the Springboks since 1994 and held the exclusive rights in the telecommunication sector.
The Springboks confirmed that MTN will be the new sponsor, with reports saying the mobile operator will sign a four-year sponsorship deal, worth between R40-million and R50-million a year, according to SA Rugby Magazine.
MTN will become the official team sponsor, with the MTN logo appearing on the front of the jersey.
MTN’s sponsorship comes at a time when Africa’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, recently reported its first ever full-year loss.
Blue Label Telecoms partnered with SA Rugby for the sponsorship of the Boks in 2016.
“Vodacom would have been within their legal rights to insist on exclusivity,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“On behalf of the SA Rugby Executive Council, I would like to express our gratitude to Vodacom, who have demonstrated what a tremendous partner they have been over the years by hearing our case and putting the needs of the national team first. We sincerely applaud them for their generosity and sportsmanship.”
“It is a gesture that gives us an opportunity to explore options in seeking a main Springbok sponsor in the mobile communications field and will significantly assist the sport in allowing us to begin to meet a current sponsorship shortfall,” adds Roux.
Vodacom will continue to partner with SA Rugby as the naming rights sponsor of the Vodacom Super Rugby which they have held since 1998 and runs until at least the end of 2020, the union said.