Editorial | Exciting times ahead for EP rugby

Players, from left, Schalk Ferreira, Andisa Ntsila and Bobby de Wee show off the new Isuzu Southern Kings kit
Players, from left, Schalk Ferreira, Andisa Ntsila and Bobby de Wee show off the new Isuzu Southern Kings kit
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

It may have taken a long time to seal the deal, but Southern Kings and Eastern Province rugby supporters finally have something to smile about.

Not only have the Kings landed a major sponsor in Isuzu Motors SA, but they are also now enjoy the backing of a powerful consortium of business leaders who have bought a majority stake in the franchise.

After being reduced to the role of also-rans, Eastern Cape rugby now has a real chance to make an impact on the South African and world landscape. It is not only the top echelon of professional players who will benefit from this partnership.

There are plans to create an academy so that young players can be nurtured and retained to play professionally for the Kings and the EP Elephants.

“The home of black rugby,” which has produced so many of the country’s best players, certainly has plenty to be excited about as this new chapter unfolds.

The Kings will make history by becoming the first blackowned rugby franchise in the country, thanks to the efforts of Port Elizabeth businessmen Loyiso Dotwana and his consortium.

The other members of the consortium are Gary Markson, Rory Stear, Kenny Govender and Vuyo Zitumane, who have all made their mark in the business world.

While none of them have worked in rugby before, they all have track records of running successful businesses, and this asset will be vital for the growth of the professional game in the region.

With the new PRO14 season kicking off in less than two weeks, the cash boost could not have come at a better time.

While player recruitment dried up at the Kings because of protracted sponsorship talks, the franchise will now have a chance to boost its depleted player resources.

The new backers have urged residents of the Eastern Cape to join them in rallying behind the Kings so that everyone can help build a strong rugby base in our region.

It is expected that the Kings will sign new players before they start their PRO14 campaign with a tough away match against Italian outfit Zebre in Parma on September 1.

If everything goes according to plan, the Eastern Cape will have a team everyone can be proud of.