WP Rugby still under administration and on the hunt for an equity partner - Sonn

Presenter Clarence Ford chats to Crispin Sonn, the chairperson of Western Province Professional Rugby.

  • The Western Province Rugby Football Union remains under administration by governing body SA Rugby

  • WP Rugby's professional arm is still searching for a long-term equity partner to help turn things around, according to chairman Crispin Sonn

  • Sonn says securing an equity partner with a controlling stake will help ensure that the union gets capital to sort out its finances

Spectators at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town. Image: @WP_RUGBY/Twitter

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) still has administrative control of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU), but the province is working on a plan that could soon change that.

WPRFU was placed under administration by Saru in October last year following years of governance failures and leadership issues.

The search continues for a long-term equity partner to take controlling interests in the union's commercial arm, Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR).

WPPR chairperson Crispin Sonn says WPRFU is one of the few unions with 100% control of its professional arm.

Sonn says the franchise is looking for an equity partner to grow its global reach and exposure as well as "the ability to trade players internationally to bring fresh capital into the franchise."

He says officials are seeking an equity partner with interests in other international rugby clubs that can invest into the cash-strapped organisation.

Although Saru-appointed administrator, Rian Oberholzer, is still overseeing the union’s affairs, Sonn says a general council meeting could soon be held to put a new board in place.

According to Sonn, WP Rugby is currently focused on dealing with its financial challenges, building transparency around its decision-making, and becoming more commercially competitive.

As a board, we have the responsibility to ensure that there is financial sustainaibility. We have set ourselves a goal to find an equity partner... which is basically a financial investor.

Crispin Sonn, Chair - Western Province Professional Rugby

We are starting the process now to identify an equity partner to participate in Western Province Professional Rugby, wich is the arm that I am chairman of.

Crispin Sonn, Chair - Western Province Professional Rugby

There's still an administrator in place but we are working quite feverishly to ensure that a general council meeting could be held at some stage at WPRFU, which allows the club to put a board in place but that will happen under the auspices of Saru.

Crispin Sonn, Chair - Western Province Professional Rugby

Our boss would be WPRFU and the new partner. It's our intention to sell off controlling interest, in other words, 50% + 1% of the shares at a minimum, in the WPRFU... That partner will be the controlling shareholder and will have a huge influence in setting up the board of the professional arm. Once that's done, WPRFU will also go through a process where they will have a new board and new council to appoint their own president.

Crispin Sonn, Chair - Western Province Professional Rugby

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