Port Elizabeth – 4 June 2010 – Soccer may be front of mind right now, but that doesn’t mean South Africa’s other favourite sport is off the radar. With the recent all-South African Super 14 final and the upcoming SA vs Wales test this Saturday, professional world-class rugby remains as popular and exciting as ever.

And although our local squads are ranked among the very best in the world at present, it all starts at the grass-roots stage. Certainly the ongoing success of our regional and national teams is determined by the feeder programmes that begin at club and provincial levels.

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is involved extensively in local rugby as an associate sponsor to SA Rugby and the Springboks, and also sponsors rugby development by supplying 34 Ford Bantams to development officers throughout South Africa.

And now, Ford has taken its participation to community level by making a donation to the PE Harlequins Rugby Football Club. A cheque was handed to club president Willie Blunden by Paul Brooks from the Ford Struandale Engine Plant at a fund-raising evening held in Port Elizabeth on 3 June.

The lively event was attended by some of the leading lights of SA rugby, including none other than South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins and Cheeky Watson (president of Eastern Province Rugby Union), as well as head Stormers and Western Province coach Alistair Coetzee, a former Harlequins player.

“Ford has aligned itself with SA rugby, as it’s not only one of this country’s favourite pastimes, but serves as an inspiration for many, and instils an overwhelming sense of national pride and unity,” explains Jacques Brent, FMCSA vice president of marketing, sales and service. “This ties in perfectly with the One Ford philosophy that enables our company to work together towards a more exciting and prosperous future for Ford and its employees.

“The opportunity presented by the PE Harlequins fund-raiser represents the ideal occasion to entrench Ford’s support for rugby development, and to include more grass-roots organisations in our sponsorship programme,” Brent states.

“This is vital in strengthening the feeder programmes into provincial and national rugby teams, thereby ensuring that South Africa remains one of the top teams in international rugby for many years to come.”

It also reaffirms Ford’s commitment to supporting the local communities in which it operates, and complements the wide range of corporate social investment programmes undertaken by the Ford Struandale Engine Plant throughout the Nelson Mandela Bay region.