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'Philanthropic reasons': What the equity deal really means for WP Rugby

SPOTLIGHT: Stormers head coach John Dobson said he felt like he had won another championship after he received news that the Red Disa investment was approved.

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Last week, the Red Disa consortium’s equity deal in securing a controlling shareholding in WP Professional Rugby (Pty Ltd) got the green light from the South African Competition Commission.

The clubs that constitute the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) General Council, on 30 August, voted by a significant majority in favour of Red Disa’s deal of 74 percent ownership.

The WPRFU retains the remaining 26 percent.

“That was probably up there with winning the URC,” said Dobson.

“That’s probably the most significant thing in the history of the franchise.

“Firstly, thanks to the clubs for voting and then also to the Competition Commission.”

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Dobson said the money will be invested wisely.

“We are not going to become flashy, flying on jets to Ibiza on holidays or make crazy acquisitions.

“What we are going to do is provide a better service to our players in every aspect like conditioning and that sort of stuff,” said the coach.

“If a big player leaves, we will be able to fill that void.”

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The story continues below…

‘A new era’

The Red Disa consortium is made up of Cape Town-based investment holding company Fynbos Ekwiteit and Ardagh Glass Packaging, a global business with a strong South African presence.

The Cape-based personal investment company of Andre van der Veen, Marble Head Investments, completes the consortium.

“They are doing it for philanthropic reasons and they want us to be sustainable,” Dobson added.

“They are going to drive the commercial side. They realise the rugby project is quite solid and it could just do with some support.

“That could mean not flying someone like Brok Harris to Welford Road via Qatar in economy [class] and not have to worry about the noise and those constant sideshows on the front page.

“We have operated with one hand tied behind our back for a long time now.

“I felt a bit bad because we haven’t had the best season so far in terms of results. However, I think they see the long-term view.

“They are going to make the [Cape Town] Stadium a massive success.

“I think we just got to enter a new era. We are probably 30 percent off some of the other bigger teams in terms of spending, but that doesn’t worry us.

“The way we have competed with all that has gone on behind the scenes is a credit to a lot of remarkable people in this organisation.

“I don’t think people realise what a difference this is going to make to Western Province Rugby over the next three to five years.”

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