Last week, the South African Competition Commission gave the green light to the Red Disa consortium to secure a controlling stake in WP Professional Rugby (Pty Ltd).

Comprising the Cape Town-based investment holding firm Fynbos Ekwiteit and the globally prominent Ardagh Glass Packaging, the consortium received overwhelming support from the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) General Council in August. The Council’s majority vote endorsed a 74% ownership stake for the consortium, with the remaining 26% held by WPRFU. With the commission’s approval, the deal is now poised for finalization.

The Red Disa consortium, named after the emblematic Disa uniflora flower found on the Western Province Rugby union team jerseys, is a significant player in this transaction. The Disa uniflora, commonly known as the red disa, holds historical significance as the emblem of The Mountain Club of South Africa since its establishment in 1891 and the Western Cape Gymnastics Association. Furthermore, this iconic flower is featured on the pro Merito Medal, a military decoration for exceptional service instituted in 1975 during the Apartheid era. Remarkably, despite the changes in government and the military’s incorporation of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, the pro Merito Medal still exists today.

Capitec founder, Michiel Le Roux

In addition to Fynbos Ekwiteit and Ardagh Glass Packaging, the Red Disa consortium includes the prominent participation of Marble Head Investments, led by André van der Veen in Stellenbosch. André, a former board member of WPPR, played a crucial role in overseeing the company’s finances and collaborated closely with John Dobson on the board’s rugby subcommittee.

The involvement of Ardagh Glass Packaging, South Africa’s leading glass packaging company with nearly 2,000 employees and production facilities in Johannesburg and Cape Town, further underscores the significance of this equity deal. With the commission’s approval and the comprehensive background of the Red Disa consortium, the finalization of the deal marks a notable development in the landscape of WP Professional Rugby. The local consortium will also have two overseas interested parties in Redstrike and Bob Skinstad’s Y11