Kings' future secured

SOUTHERN Kings chief executive Charl Crous says exciting times lie ahead for Eastern Province rugby fans after a revamped four-group format for the new expanded 18-team Super Rugby competition in 2016 was unveiled.

The new format, which will comprise two South African groups, an Australian group and a New Zealand group, is expected to breathe new life into what many regard to be world rugby's toughest competition.

In 2016 Super Rugby will have 18 competing teams with the Southern Kings, a team from Buenos Aires and a side yet to be determined through a tender process joining the 15 existing franchises.

"When it comes to the proposed format a lot of work has gone into it by the Sanzar working committees to get an exciting tournament and format. They had to address a number of issues, especially the player attrition rate," Crous said.

"They also had to look at maintaining South African derbies which are critical to us. In addition to that they had to maintain the international integrity of the competition," he said.

"Seeing the Kings mentioned in the pools makes everything much more tangible and exciting. I think they have done well to come up with the four-group format. Exciting times lie ahead for EP fans and they come ahead of our big season in June when the Kings will play Wales, a Super Rugby friendly against the Bulls and the Springboks play Scotland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium."

With the broadcast deal running its course next year the competition was in need of renewal, but deciding on a new format proved more exhausting than ever. The revamped competition will be played on at least one new continent and Saru declared themselves pleased that they met their main objectives.

They got the Southern Kings back into Super Rugby, Argentine. - George Byron and Liam del Carme