Port Elizabeth - The Southern Kings have confirmed that they will play Irish side Munster in a PRO14 clash in George later this year.
The clash at Outeniqua Park is scheduled for April 7.
“This is an extremely exciting development for us and forms part of the Southern Kings’ mission to bring international rugby to all our people. South Western Districts has always been a key component of our franchise and has not only provided us with passionate support but also a number of great players, as well as our head coach Deon Davids,” Southern Kings CEO Charl Crous said via a press statement on Tuesday.
The move is also part of a wider initiative to familiarise the broader rugby public with the PRO14 brand.
This is the first season of South African involvement in the competition, which also features the best Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian teams.
Many local fans are still learning about the sides taking part and the many great internationals they have in their line-ups.
“The PRO14 is one of the fastest-growing brands in world rugby and the inclusion of the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs this season has made it possible for more fans to share in the excitement of international franchise rugby and the Kings are looking forward to 'spreading this gospel' to the George public,” Crous added.
Hennie Baartman, president of South Western Districts Rugby, was equally enthusiastic in confirming the news. “Having the Kings play PRO14 rugby in George will not only be a huge boost for the city but also for the sport of rugby in the area. It will inspire our young players to see icons of the game from up close and I have no doubt that our people will embrace the occasion! The match will take place at Outeniqua Park and I encourage all fans to get their tickets early to avoid disappointment,” Baartman said.
Baartman’s views were echoed by Melvin Naik, the Mayor of George.
“The city of George is not only situated in a spectacularly beautiful part of the world but is also well established in hosting international sporting events. I am sure most rugby fans will recall the many years during which we hosted the SA leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series and we see our partnership with the Southern Kings as an extension of that fine tradition. The Munster team and their fans are in for an absolute treat when they arrive,” he said.
The Kings’ strategy to take the PRO14 championship to different communities has already seen them host Ulster at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele earlier this season.
An earlier report also indicated that the Kings were exploring the possibility of playing a PRO14 game at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London.