Kings’ Super Rugby debut still on track

2011-10-22 18:12

The South African Rugby Union will back its decision to include the Southern Kings in the 2013 Super Rugby season despite the Eastern Province (EP) King’s failure to win the Currie Cup first division.

Corporate affairs general manager Andy Colquhoun said EP Kings’ 43-12 loss to Boland in last week’s first division final won’t reverse plans.

When asked how the team’s failure to win the South African provincial rugby’s second tier would affect their Super Rugby inclusion, he said: “It won’t.”

“The decision was taken to include them and it wasn’t dependent on any conditions,” he said.

“If you think about it, the Melbourne Rebels entered Super Rugby without any form of competition before the tournament.”

The Southern Kings will be made up of EP Kings, Border Bulldogs and South Western District Eagles players.

But with the Bulldogs and Eagles finishing last and second last respectively on the First Division table – the sixth season in a row that Border have ended in the bottom two places – the Kings are likely to contribute most of the players.

The Kings’ failure to perform at Currie Cup First Division level seems to indicate they will not make it in Super Rugby.

EP and Southern Kings president Cheeky Watson said he had mapped out their journey to becoming a fully-fledged Super Rugby team.

He said: “When you’re in Super Rugby the budget’s a lot bigger.

“You’re budgeting and targeting players of a far higher standard than you have. You’ll put a team together that’s far more competitive than what you have now.”
But they could struggle to attract good players.

“You also have to realise that, two years ago, EP were on the bottom of the B section log. Last year they won the cup and this year they were in the final,” said Watson.

“So even now it’s difficult to bring top players to EP. You have to realise that we’re the only three provinces that don’t have a link to a franchise.

“We’re the only three provinces that have never had a feeder system to the top. We’ve been disadvantaged for years.”

The road to creating an Eastern Cape Super Rugby team has been long and rocky, starting in 2005 with the formation of the Southern Spears, the Kings’ predecessors.

According Watson, the Eastern Cape deserves a Super Rugby franchise for a number of reasons, one of them being the area’s potential for developing talented black players.

“I think if we go back in the history of rugby, the Eastern Cape is the heart and soul of black rugby and it was the heart and soul of non-racial rugby,” he said.

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