Talks under way to take some PRO14 games away from PE stadium
East London is set to host its first PRO14 rugby match after Southern Kings rugby chiefs said they were exploring the possibility of moving a third game away from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Apart from the possible move up the coast to East London, it has also been decided that the Kings would play Munster at the Outeniqua Park Stadium in George on April 7.
Earlier in the season, the Kings played top Irish side Ulster at Kwazakhele’s Wolfson Stadium.
“We are hoping to take a game to East London and are discussing it with the relevant role players,” the Kings said on their official social media account.
The news will be welcomed by Border rugby fans, who have been clamouring for the Kings to play in East London.
Soccer team Chippa United and the Warriors cricket side already alternate match- es between Port Elizabeth and East London with success and have won supporters in both regions.
Only 3 011 fans watched the King’s opening game against Leinster and 4 062 supporters turned up to watch them play Zebre in their second game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
However, the Kwazakhele game drew only 2 836 fans and the Kings then returned to the NMB Stadium for their home games against Scarlets (attendance 3 619) and Edinburgh (3 600).
“The decision to host a match at the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele formed part of our broader mission to bring international rugby to all the people of our region,” Kings chief operations officer Charl Crous said.
Crowds for PRO14 matches in Port Elizabeth have been poor and the Kings are clearly keen to test the waters in new territories. Outeniqua Park has previously been the venue for the World Rugby Sevens Series and is home to the SWD Eagles, who compete in the Currie Cup.
A spokesman for the Southern Kings said: “We trust that our supporters will embrace this exciting development and make the journey with us to the beautiful Garden Route.”
After exiting Super Rugby earlier this year, the Kings struggled to make any headway in the PRO14, losing all of their opening 10 matches.
After losing 48-21 to Edinburgh in Port Elizabeth earlier this month, the Kings are on a three-week summer break and return to training next week.
In their last game before the break, replacement Sam Hidalgo-Clyne scored a hat-trick off the bench for Edinburgh during a sensational 10-minute blitz, which condemned the Kings to another defeat.
The Kings’ next match is the return game against Edinburgh at the Myreside Stadium on January 5.
Kings coach Deon Davids will demand that his players lift their game in the second half of the season.
“Our fundamental skills were poor at times, and there were too many basic errors that let us down,” Davids said after the Edinburgh defeat.
The Kings’ remaining fixtures: January 5: Edinburgh (away), Jan 13: Cheetahs (home), Jan 20: Cheetahs (away), February 9: Ulster (away), Feb 16: Ospreys (away), Feb 23: Leinster (away), March 2: Newport Gwent Dragons (home), March 24: Benetton Treviso (home), April 7: Munster (home in George), April 14: Cardiff Blues (home), April 28 Cheetahs (home).