Ms Manie was elected to serve on the incoming executive committee of the South African Rugby Employers’ Association (SAREO), along with Eduard Coetzee (KZN Sharks CEO), Eugene Fourie (Leopards CEO) and Edgar Rathbone (Bulls CEO).

Thando Manana (EPRU GM) was elected as vice-chairman – having previously been an ordinary executive member – while Rudolf Straeuli (Lions CEO) was re-elected as chairman. SA Rugby is represented on the committee by Ian Schwartz, GM Strategic Performance Management.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Veda onto the executive committee,” said Straeuli. “Rugby has been a male-dominated sport for many years, but we’re happy to be moving with the times.

“Rugby prides itself on being a sport for all, and we need to have diverse and wide-ranging voices in shaping its future so that it meets the needs of all.”

Barend van Graan, CEO of SAREO

Barend van Graan, CEO of SAREO

Barend van Graan, CEO of SAREO, said it had been a supremely challenging year for members.

“Although play has resumed for some of our members, our sport remains in an extremely precarious position,” he said.

“We are businesses, like any other in the South African economy, and we rely on being able to provide entertainment to our customers – either through the turnstiles, on TV or through sponsorship – to pay our way.

“Major revenue streams have slowed to a trickle in 2020 and some have been turned off completely, and many of our members find themselves in an uncertain position.

“Our major achievement this year was the sport-wide, Industry Savings Plan that we were able to agree with MyPlayers, Sports Employees Unite (the union representing rugby staff) and SA Rugby, to reduce budgets and make savings.

“It has been extremely tough for all our members, their players, coaches and staff but it was essential so that we would still have a sport to return to once this pandemic eases.”

Professional rugby in South Africa went into lockdown on 21 March. Competitive play only resumed on 10 October, 29 weeks later. Seven of the 14 professional teams opted not to resume playing at all in 2020 to maximise savings.