Bytes Document Solutions, the distributor of Xerox in 24 African countries,
has provided a major cash injection to the University of the Free State
rugby team, the Shimlas, with a sponsorship worth more than R1 million over
a three-year period.
The money will be used for bursaries to attract talented young rugby
players, says Mickey Gordon, head strategic sport and business development
at University of the Free State.
"Many sports organisations use sponsorship money for operational purposes,"
says Gordon, "but we are using it to invest in the future of our rugby
Shimlas are one of South Africa's leading rugby clubs, and a team with a
proud record. They have won the Free State city title 40 times, and last
year won the Melrose Sevens in Scotland. The club has yielded 62 Springboks
and this year alone, more than 20 players have turned out for the Cheetahs,
South Africa's most successful Currie Cup team of recent times and a
competitor in the Super 14.
Most recently, Shimlas won the University Sports South Africa rugby
tournament in Durban, beating off the best from other tertiary education
institutions to emerge victorious.
An example of how much Shimlas contribute to South African rugby is the
number of ex-Shimlas who have played for the Springboks this season: CJ van
der Linde, Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, Juan Smith, Ruan Pienaar
and Tonderai Chavanga.
Shimlas' annual intervarsity with Pukke from Potchefstroom is a highlight of
the national rugby calendar, although the Shimlas have lost the last three
intervarsities to the Pukke, bringing a sharp edge to this year's game as
the men from Bloemfontein seek revenge and to end their losing streak.
"Xerox is investing in the long-term future not just of Shimlas rugby, but
also in that of the Free State Cheetahs, and South African rugby," adds
Gordon. "This will have a major impact on the team, the university, and on
Cheetahs and national rugby. We are delighted to be able to partner with a
company like Xerox."
Xerox stands to gain a great deal in terms of brand awareness, says Rob
Abraham, MD of Bytes Document Solutions. "We will have the Xerox name
emblazoned on the Shimlas jerseys, as prominently as we do with our other
major rugby sponsorship, the Xerox Lions. The Shimlas play more than 20
games a season, including 10 in the nationally televised Varsity Cup. This
ensures we will enjoy return on investment.
"However, our investment in the Shimlas relates to more than exposure. As
with the Xerox Lions, we believe in the long-term future of South Africa,
its education and its sportsmen, and our sponsorship reflects this."
Shimlas and Xerox have a long record of working together. Bytes Document
Solutions has maintained the university's print room in a facilities
management contract for a decade; Dr Bill Venter, chairman of holding
company Altron, received an honorary Doctorate of Commerce at the
university; and Dr Harold Serebro, senior executive director of Altron, was
awarded a Ph D by the university.