Bobby Skinstad on the Lions Tour, Sabvest and Net1

Former Springbok rugby captain Bobby Skinstad told BizNews about the Lions Tour, which is set to come to South Africa this year. The international rugby tour could bring with it great things for the SA economy and the battered tourism industry, but the reality of Covid-19 may still put a dampener on festivities. Skinstad also tells BizNews founder Alec Hogg about the business side of his life. – Jarryd Neves

Bobby Skinstad on the Lions Tour:

It’s being greeted as positive because everybody wants to see this clash between these two countries happen. It’s got to be good for sport and it’s got to be good for rugby. But then I would say [it’s] a little bittersweet, because so many people are used to the really positive ramifications of an amazing supporter-led backing for the Lions on tour – and that’s part of the appeal.

So the announcement – which is amazing – that it will go ahead and that they’re not going to take up any of the other options (which were, potentially, Australia and the British Isles) is good but there haven’t been a full declaration of what that will mean. Can people tour and support the Lions? Everybody talks about the Lions ’16th man’ which we know is is the army of loud, rugby-loving supporters.

On the effects the tour will have on the SA economy:

The effect on our economy – particularly in a post-Covid world where all the tourism outlets and establishments have been so affected – would be an amazing shot in the arm for South Africa. That’s why I said bittersweet, because nobody’s got clarity on what that means. We were all looking forward to a full-on Lions Tour, where the current world champions take on one of the best touring teams of all time – and it’s all as it was But in the world, at the moment, is anything as it was?

On the background of the Lions Tour:

The Lions Tour every four years. Traditionally, they’ve started to add in some other fixtures. For example, they’ve played Argentina in a warm up to their 2017 tour to New Zealand – which they ended up drawing one test all, then scores drawn on the final match. A drawn series sets it up for the next series to be exciting and then obviously the return to New Zealand.

They tour every four years. However, you’ve got to remember, they tour a different Southern Hemisphere side every four years. The last time they were in South Africa was 2009. It was an incredible series. The Lions eventually, I think, won the third test and it was ended up being 2-1. But that was 12 years ago, so it’s an incredible hark back to the old touring form of rugby and everybody gets so excited about it. I think the Lions, as a rugby institution, are just one of the greats around the world.

On whether fans will be allowed to come over:

I think both the Lions rugby board and South African rugby officials will be monitoring it every day. I don’t envy them – it’s a really difficult task. I think they’ve done a good job to get some resolution thus far. I think they’ll also be dictated to by the powers that be in government. How many vaccines have been rolled out? What kind of interaction are people going to be having with those who are still at risk?

Are the players going to be in a bubble? Are the South African players going to have to train and manage themselves in a bubble – like we saw in the rugby championship between New Zealand, Argentina and Australia – which South Africa didn’t feel comfortable on the safety protocols to participate in. There are lots of question marks. I hope they don’t detract from what is an amazing part of world rugby.

On Net1:

Net1, as we know, is a much beleaguered share over the last couple of years – but it’s a share with tremendous promise. It’s a share that has got a conglomeration of businesses that sort of serve the financially underprivileged, but that managed to create a network of payment systems, businesses and networks that benefit from it. I think they’re a share that has held some patents and some IP for a long time, that have really affected emerging market technologies and payment systems. There’s always an upside in a share like that. 

On Sabvest:

I’ve got the most the most tremendous respect for the chairman of Sabvest and the work that he’s done, as a member of the JSE – and large businesses in and around the JSE for so long. I don’t think there’s much – even in a tumultuous market – that could set him off course. He’s a wunderkind when it comes to managing businesses and being aware of where the next twists and turns are, whether it’s rallies of stocks or how to manage businesses with the current risk – we don’t know the future of some of the pandemic outcomes, etc. But if I had a ship, he’d be the captain. 

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