Southern Kings make demands
Johannesburg - The Southern Kings franchise, in a statement, requested that the SA Rugby Union (SARU) need to urgently confirm the Southern Kings' Super Rugby participation from 2011.
The statement rejects the proposal for Super Rugby participation from 2013 by entrenching one of the Southern Kings partners in the Currie Cup or through a series of friendly matches.
"We are not prepared to wait and will do everything in our power to ensure that Super Rugby becomes a reality in the region from no later than 2011," said Southern Kings CEO, Stephan Pretorius. The full statement reads: The Southern Kings franchise remains determined in its quest to bring Super Rugby to the Eastern and Southern Cape from 2011.
The presidents of the three provinces that comprise the Southern Kings -Cheeky Watson of the Eastern Province Rugby Union, Bantu Ondala (Acting) of the Border Rugby Union and Hennie Baartman of the South Western Districts Rugby Union - met in Port Elizabeth on Sunday April 18 to reaffirm their commitment to making Super Rugby participation a reality in the region from 2011.
The meeting discussed a number of issues that remain critical to the Southern Kings' participation in the Super 15 competition from 2011.
"The three partner unions have reiterated that the franchise is ready to participate in the Sanzar Super 15 tournament from 2011," said Southern Kings CEO, Stephan Pretorius.
"The meeting expressed concern at the apparent stalling tactics employed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) since 2005, which seek to delay the franchise's entry into Super Rugby until the 2013 season," Pretorius said.
In 2009, the SARU leadership indicated that the Southern Kings would participate in Super Rugby from 2011. As recently as January 2010, Saru changed its position, stating that the Southern Kings could play from 2012.
The latest SARU position is that the Southern Kings must be prepared for participation from 2013.
The Southern Kings leadership agreed that this was a delaying tactic by Saru in the hope that Super Rugby was expanded to 18 teams in 2013, which would allow for a sixth South African franchise.
The Southern Kings leadership finds this situation unacceptable and believes it to be detrimental to rugby, not only in the Southern Kings region, but in South Africa. This is specifically in relation to the creation of opportunities for black players and broadening the support base for the game.
When the Southern Kings submitted a bid to SANZAR in September 2009 - to be included in the expanded Super 15 tournament - the franchise proved beyond doubt, and to the satisfaction of SARU and SANZAR that it would be ready to participate from 2011.
The meeting on Sunday confirmed that nothing had changed since the submission of that bid document and that the franchise remained convinced that it would be ready by the start of the 2011 season.
The Southern Kings leadership took note of the poor performance of some of the existing South African Super Rugby franchises and was adamant that the Southern Kings deserved to be given a similar opportunity to take part in the expanded Super 15 from 2011.
The meeting expressed disappointment that the Southern Kings' readiness to compete in Super Rugby was regularly called into question, yet the poor performance of the Lions and the Cheetahs, in particular, continued to go unquestioned.
"The Southern Kings expressed concern over SARU's apparent protection of the Lions and Cheetahs franchises - which have consistently performed poorly since the onset of the Super 14 in 2006 and presently occupy the 13th and 14th places in the 2010 Super 14 standings.
The Southern Kings leadership described this situation as "unacceptable" adding that SARU needed to act decisively to rectify the situation. The Southern Kings reiterated that the time was now appropriate for the franchise to be given the opportunity to participate in Super Rugby.
The Southern Kings do not believe it is possible to effectively prepare for Super Rugby participation from 2013 by entrenching one of the Southern Kings partners in the Currie Cup or through a series of friendly matches. SARU needs to urgently confirm the Southern Kings' Super Rugby participation from 2011, which will allow the franchise to immediately activate sponsorships and, using this funding, begin contracting a squad that is of Super Rugby standard.
"We are not prepared to wait and will do everything in our power to ensure that Super Rugby becomes a reality in the region from no later than 2011," Pretorius concluded.