Southern Kings

SA’s Super15 team a ‘one game wonder’




There are fears that South Africa’s Super 15 hopeful team will become a “one game wonder” when they are launched against the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday.

There are reports that SA Rugby have put in R15-million into the venture but there are concerns by top rugby figures that the Southern Kings are already on track to suffer the same fate as its predecessor, the Southern Spears, which folded soon after it was established in 2005.

The Eastern Province Rugby Union and the team’s sponsors have predictably insisted that the Kings will still become a force to be reckoned with.

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The administration appears to be suffering from pre game match nerves as they showed a mock up of the team’s jersey a couple of weeks ago showing the team’s colours in gold and black and made by Rugby kit company Stash.

The black and gold colours are in the team’s logo and on the team’s bus but it has now been revealed that the team’s kit will be made by Puma and is plain white. The new shirt looks more like a blank canvas with the sponsors logo slapped on the front.

Sources close to the new franchise have told the Herald Online that SA Rugby has jumped ship on promises to prop up a new regional team, apparently after pressure from the five established South African Super Rugby franchises who are concerned that a new team will harm their earnings.

They say the rugby governing body never intended to follow through with their 2005 promise to see a regional franchise launched and that they merely wanted to be seen to back its formation in order to receive an £80-million (just over R1-billion) government backing for their bid last month to host either the 2015 or 2019 Rugby  World Cup.

Supporting the accusations is the lack of a permanent Southern Kings fixture list which would allow them to form a team and create a business plan with sponsor backing.

The team that will launch the franchise against the British and Irish Lions on Tuesday is a makeshift team with many of the players taking part in Tuesday’s historic clash flying back to their respective clubs or provinces the following day.

As there is not a fixture list for the franchise there are also fears that the new R2-billion stadium in North End, which is earmarked to be the home of the new team and would derive much of its income from hosting future matches, could now become a white elephant.

Even if the Southern Kings are allowed to play in the Super 15 they will play all of their home matches in the Australian conference in Australia.

There have been rumblings that there could be a play off match between the Kings and the last placed South African Super rugby team as a qualifier for the Super 15 as it seems inevitable that Australia will get the 15th team in the Super 15 .


If such a match did take place and the Kings won it their participation in the Super 15 would be at the expense of another South African team – most likely the Lions or Cheetahs at this point.

Former SA Rugby president Brian van Rooyen blasted rugby bosses for reneging on a 2005 President’s Council resolution to see a regional franchise taking part in the Currie Cup and Super 14 competitions.

“SA Rugby  hasn’t kept to its promise,” Van Rooyen told Weekend Post.


“It’s sad, because I always believed the biggest growth area for rugby was the Eastern Cape. SA Rugby must be held squarely responsible for this dilemma.

“The biggest growth in SA rugby  will be in the Eastern Cape and SA Rugby should be grabbing this with open arms. But it’s an old boys club who sold out. In the current circumstances, (a regional franchise) won’t become a reality.”

Incumbent SA Rugby  president Oregan Hoskins ousted Van Rooyen in late 2005 with the support of the five South African rugby franchise-holders who, sources say, were afraid a sixth franchise in the Eastern and Southern Cape would see one of them knocked out of the lucrative Super Rugby series.

And although EPRU president Cheeky Watson proudly announced the formation of the Kings earlier this year with the hope they would become the fifteenth franchise in an expanded Super Rugby competition, those hopes were dashed last month when it was announced Australia would be the home of the extra franchise.

Watson insists he would be willing to base the Kings in Australia. But rugby analysts say there is no chance Super 14 governing body Sanzar would allow it, while the logistics of basing a South African team Down Under were “ludicrous”.

“Watson means well, but he has been outmaneuvered without realising it,” said one insider.

“(The launch) is a huge charade because, after June 16, there isn’t a single date for the Kings to play against any other teams at any time. They’re being launched for just one day.

“They’ve been written out of the script for the  Super 15 because Australia has the extra franchise. They also can’t partake in next year’s Currie Cup because only Eastern Province as a union can partake.”

SA Rugby boss Hoskins, who will be attending Tuesday’s match, acknowledged the problem, saying: “We won’t get a second chance (at bidding for the extra Super 15 franchise) after the first round was messed up (when Australia was given it).


“We have to look at housing the Kings locally and we are looking at all the possibilities, but we don’t have time on our side.”

Hoskins said the idea of merging the Kings with an established franchise had not been ruled out.

According to insiders, SA Rugby , together with its sponsors for Tuesday’s match ‘ SuperSport and Megapro ‘ have shelled out up to R15-million for the “one-match franchise”.

That money has mainly been spent on paying players, ferrying them in from other regions, advertising, accommodation, hiring the stadium, and players’ insurance cover.

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