Currie Cup senior and U21 champions Western Province Rugby is now without an official jersey sponsor as WP Rugby takes over the union’s official apparel, merchandising and retail programmes. Adidas will continue as the official footwear partner after their 30-year jersey sponsorship agreement with the union came to an end on Tuesday (31 October). Genuine Connection, who used to manufacture the WP and Stormers jerseys for adidas, will continue to manufacture the jerseys for the union.

“We are excited about the possibilities going forward as we explore the new opportunities that lie in our own apparel ranges, in line with our turnaround strategy,” Western Province Rugby Group CEO Paul Zacks said in a statement. “The result of these innovative changes is that there will be a host of new ways in which the DHL Newlands Faithful can show their unrivalled passion for our teams.”

Paul Zacks. Photo: Nicol du Toit.

Both Zacks and WP marketing director Darryl Kroll has extensive experience in manufacturing, marketing and distributing teamwear and replica. They worked together at Canterbury when the brand was the official merchandise and jersey supplier of the Springboks. In addition, Kroll for many years marketed and sourced ranges for Umbro SA, while Zacks had a management position at the company that owned SARU ball supplier, Gilbert SA, when it was the official jersey supplier of the Blue Bulls. Leading up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Zacks was general manager of Global Brands, which was responsible for all World Cup licensing agreements in South Africa, and Kroll was marketing manager.

“The relationship between adidas and Western Province dates back to the days before rugby became a professional sport and it has been a fantastic and memorable partnership,” says Roddy van Breda, MD of adidas SA. “The time has come for us to adjust our direction and we look forward to helping the union’s various representative teams win even more trophies in the future.”

Last year in December the union liquidated the commercial arm responsible for advertising and digital rights, and formed a new commercial arm, WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, with former partner Remgro. An ongoing R271-m dispute with sports marketing company Aerios, however, resulted in a Section 417 inquiry into possible corporate malfeasance. The Section 417 inquiry has been postponed to mid-November.