EDITORIAL | High hopes French link will boost Kings
If everything goes according to plan, Eastern Cape rugby fans can look forward to seeing some much needed “French flair” in the Isuzu Southern Kings team next season.
An agreement between the Kings and top French team Toulon has opened the door for an exchange of both ideas and players.
This pathway could be of great benefit to the Kings, who have struggled to make their mark in the European-based Guinness PRO14 competition.
This season the Kings have won only two of their opening 19 matches and a radical overhaul of the team is needed.
There are also plans for youth development through both teams’ rugby academies and that could reap rich rewards in the years ahead.
The new owners of the Kings say they want to win at least 50% of their matches next season and that win ratio target reveals their high ambition.
Kings deputy chair Rory Stear and chief operations officer Charl Crous travelled to France, where they met Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, to conclude an agreement which will see an immediate close working relationship.
Toulon is a club that has had close SA links with Springboks like Bryan Habana, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Juandre Kruger, Jacques Potgieter and Marcel van der Merwe playing for them.
Other world greats like England’s Johnny Wilkinson and New Zealand’s Julian Sevea have also pulled on the Toulon jersey.
It is known that the Kings are actively hunting for new talent and several names have been linked to the franchise since the new owners took over.
It is also believed that as many as 20 players could be shown the door, as the Kings attempt to improve on their dreadful record in the PRO14 which has left them at the wrong end of the log.
Presently the Kings have 49 players on their books and many might be considered surplus to requirements.
So while the Kings may find themselves on the wrong end of the league at the moment, there are high hopes they will start climbing the ladder next season.