Kings vow to dodge the axe
The Southern Kings have vowed to fight any moves to oust them from Super Rugby following yesterday’s announcement that two South African teams would be axed from the tournament next year.
Sanzaar, which manages the Super Rugby tournament between New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, has announced that the current 18-team format will be reduced to 15 teams next year and that South Africa’s participation would be slashed from six to four teams.
While the Kings and the Free State Cheetahs, which are considered to be the weakest of South Africa’s Super Rugby teams, have not been named, it is widely believed that these two franchises will be axed.
A Kings exit from the tournament is expected to have serious implications for the Bay’s sports economy, tourism to the region and on local rugby and its development, among other negative effects.
Speaking just one day after he was elected president of the financially embattled EP Rugby Union, Andre Rademan described the Sanzaar announcement as devastating.
“Should the Kings be considered for removal from Super Rugby, we will fight it,” he said.
Rademan said an ousting from the tournament would be devastating for rugby in the Bay.
“The Kings and Cheetahs have been looking after the most previously disadvantaged players in the country.
“This will be devastating for them, many of whom have been playing brilliant rugby. We have been working well, feeding these players into the system.
“We have a new executive team in place to address our problems and we are highly motivated to take EP Rugby forward, so this announcement has certainly come at the wrong time.”
Rademan said he feared for the future of the “beautiful” Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which he said could become a white elephant.
He warned that the rugby academy linked to the Kings would also be affected should the Kings lose their berth in the tournament.
“We really feel let down. We feel we should have been consulted around the reduction in competing teams,” Rademan said.
“We are sitting with a vast financial backlog and to address this we need a good product to show investors.
“This [exclusion from Super Rugby] will not help. Youngsters here will be let down.
“We can’t see why the format was changed.
“Is it just about the money and not about the rugby any more?”
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