Ackerley Sports Group Reveals Financial Stake in Springboks

The South African Rugby Union (SARU), responsible for overseeing the operations of the Springboks, South Africa’s four-time world champion rugby team, has entered into preliminary discussions with Ackerley Sports Group (ASG) to forge a strategic alliance aimed at bolstering South African rugby across all echelons. This collaboration seeks to enhance the professional landscape of the sport while augmenting the financial and commercial aspects of both the Springboks and SARU.

The proposed deal, still under negotiation and awaiting ratification from SARU’s members, envisages Ackerely Sports Group’s involvement in a Commercial Rights Corporation (CRC). This entity would manage all existing and prospective revenue avenues for both SARU and the Springboks, with SARU retaining the majority stake and ASG acquiring a substantial minority share.

Ackerley Sports Group Reveals Financial Stake in SpringboksTed Ackerley, co-founder of ASG, expressed enthusiasm about partnering with the prestigious Springboks, highlighting the initiative as a step towards amplifying the rugby brand on a global scale. He emphasized the alignment of ASG’s commitment to excellence and its intent to leverage its extensive experience in sports management to support the Springboks’ continued success and resonance with South African heritage.

ASG, an extension of the Ackerley Partners’ investment lineage founded in 2002 by Ted and Christopher Ackerley, has a rich history in sports franchise ownership. Their portfolio includes involvement with several sports teams and ventures, extending from the Seattle SuperSonics and Seattle Storm to the recent establishment of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and taking a major stake in Leeds United Football Club in collaboration with 49ers Enterprises.

The Springboks, South Africa’s emblematic rugby team, have a storied presence in international rugby dating back to their first test match in 1891. Their historic 1995 Rugby World Cup victory, a symbol of the nation’s new democratic era, was immortalized in a Hollywood film featuring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. As the current world’s top-ranked team and the reigning World Champions, the Springboks boast a record four World Cup wins (1995, 2007, 2019, and 2023).

The establishment of CRC aims to amplify SARU’s commercial endeavors, encompassing sponsorships, broadcasting rights, partnerships, and other revenue streams. This initiative will not only support South Africa’s national teams but also contribute to the development of amateur and community rugby, including schools and governance.

With the global rugby market expanding, as evidenced by the record-breaking attendance and viewership of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the sport is poised for further growth. The upcoming World Cup in the United States in 2031 presents an opportunity for rugby to cement its presence in the world’s largest media market, with ASG’s strategic partnership poised to propel the Springboks to continued success both on and off the field.

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