Cape Town - The Southern Kings crisis ahead of their return
to Super Rugby in February only seems to be deepening.
Sport24 has learnt that players in the embattled,
cash-strapped fold met in Port Elizabeth on Friday night, with a group of up to
30 signing a petition to their employers effectively committing themselves to
strike action until various demands are met.
The Facebook supporters’ page EP Kings Army indicates that a
statement was drawn up by the aggrieved players, saying that they had “no
confidence in the president (Cheeky Watson)” as he was no longer fit to hold
office and “as such needs to step down or be removed with immediate effect”.
Further, the players said they had “no confidence in the
SARU (emergency intervention) plan as this will only cater to a small
percentage of current Kings players”.
The national body earlier on Friday issued a press statement
revealing its management team and operational plan for the Southern Kings, who
are due to open their 2016 campaign at home to the Sharks on February 27.
It said Kings staff and players, some of whom have not
received salaries for several months, would be paid next week, and also
announced the appointment of Deon Davids, coach of the SWD Academy, as head
coach after Watson’s short-lived Super Rugby appointee Brent Janse van Rensburg
(EP Kings Currie Cup coach in 2015) quit earlier in the week.
Davids is intended to take charge of a 42-strong squad, made
up of around half of the existing EP Kings personnel.
SARU chief executive Jurie Roux has also said that he hoped
to confirm two new sponsorships in the New Year which would “assist in funding
the new-look Southern Kings” - earlier large sponsorship assurances made by
Watson have not yet materialised.
Sport24 understands that players not making the reworked
Super Rugby squad - expected to include some loan infusions from elsewhere -
feel vulnerable, fearing they will left at the mercy of a technically bankrupt
Yet the list of petition signatories is known by this writer
to also include numerous proven professionals on the Kings’ books who would be
prime candidates for first-team berths in the Super Rugby XV.
The petition is titled “EP Rugby - Player Petition” and
sub-headed “Collective Player Statement”.
It reads: “I hereby confirm that I am joining the EP Rugby
Funding Petition and Rugby Player Strike.
“I will not be prepared to work for EP Rugby Pty Limited,
EPRU or Southern Kings Pty Limited, SA Rugby Pty Limited or SARU (acting on
behalf of SANZAR or EPRU) or any associated companies until such time as there
is an Annual General Meeting or Extraordinary/Special General Meeting of the
EPRU in order that the order of business is as follows ...”
The list of bullet-points then includes:
*An irrevocable pledge by EPRU and SARU that all players’
outstanding salaries and benefits are fully paid up on or before December 18;
*A vote by member clubs in favour, or not in favour of the
current EPRU Executive Committee on or before December 12;
*Credible and competent rugby turnaround specialists be
permitted to present proposals of a sustainable funding model in association
with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality on or before December 11.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing