• The future of WP Rugby shines brights as clubs see the equity light

    The future of WP Rugby shines brights as clubs see the equity light

    A club majority secured a YES vote on the Red Disa majority share equity deal in Western Province rugby. It is a monumental moment in the history of WP rugby and those club leaders who looked to the future and not the past must be applauded. They have changed the course of WP Rugby for the better and forever, writes Mark Keohane.

    WP Rugby’s General Council, representing the WPRFU and its affiliate clubs, will always be remembered for the night they took the game into the future at Cape Town’s DHL Stadium on Wednesday, 6th September, 2023. At around 20.30 news broke that the majority of the clubs had stood tall and endorsed the first ever equity deal for the province in accepting Red Disa’s proposal to acquire 74% of the Western Province Professional Rugby. The WPRFU are the 100% shareholders of WPPR and have accepted the sale of 74% to Red Disa.

    The proposed deal will now follow procedure and go to the Competitions’ Commission for consideration and ratification. This is a process that can take anything from two to six months.

    The WPRFU will retain a 26 percent shareholding and have representation in the proposed new ownership deal.

    The deal, said to be R148 million, is the biggest sports equity deal in South Africa.

    Earlier in the week I wrote that it would be a decision that would make or break WP Rugby. I felt it was a decision that would give life to WP Rugby or kill community rugby in the province.

    I wrote of the gains for community rugby and motivated why it was the best possible deal for WP Rugby, in the current economic climate and also because of the make-up of the Red Sofa Consortium, which includes the locally based Le Roux family, who will have 50 percent ownership, with Irish business giants Ardagh having 50 percent.

    Ardagh has very strong business interests in South Africa and have invested heavily in South Africa as a country and South Africans in the work place.

    Equally the Le Roux family, in terms of their business interests and philanthropic generosity.

    WP clubs say ‘Yes’ to equity proposal

    Stormers coach John Dobson also made an impassioned plea in going public on what the YES vote and an endorsement of the deal would mean to the well-being of WP Rugby.

    But it would take the foresight of those club leaders to make it happen, as they had the voting power.

    It needed them to understand the bigger picture and on this glorious night for WP Rugby, they did.

    The praise is to them on a night when the moon shone as bright over Cape Town as the sun will in the new age of WP Rugby.


    Article written by

    Keo has written about South African and international rugby professionally for the last 25 years