Southern Kings name game on ice
EP Rugby delay rebranding of PRO14 franchise
Moves to dump the controversial Southern Kings brand after years of financial upheaval and dismal results have been put on ice for the time being.
When the new PRO14 season kicks off on September 1, it will still be the familiar Southern Kings on the scoreboard when they take on Italian outfit Zebre in Parma.
“At this stage, the name will stay as it is,” EP Rugby Union president Andre Rademan said on Tuesday.
However, he has not ruled out a name change in the future.
“The EPRU executive still feel that at some point in the future the name could be shortened to just the Kings. The Southern part could fall away,” Rademan said.
“We have to take into account that we are talking to sponsors and we have to listen to their input as well.
“A process is being dealt with. Different role players are involved who must be engaged with before this issue can be finalised.”
Since the appointment of a new EP Rugby executive under Rademan, there has been a swing to move away from the Kings brand which was tarnished during the financial troubles.
The EP Kings have reverted back to the EP Elephants brand for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and the Currie Cup.Shortly after plans to change the name were announced, it became clear that some supporters were not happy with the idea.
A supporters group said 75% of members who took part in their own poll said the Kings name should stay, while only 25% wanted a change.
Fans have also made it clear that they feel results and the quality of the team were more important than a name change.
At the beginning of May, the EPRU announced they were giving fans an opportunity to decide whether the Southern Kings name should be ditched before the new PRO14 season.
Since their inception in 2009 with a game against the British and Irish Lions, the Kings have endured a stormy history on and off the field.
Rademan and his executive had been keen on an image change for the PRO14 side who won only one of 21 matches this past season.
Supporters were urged to email the EP Rugby Union on whether they wanted the name to be ditched and to suggest a new one.
The results of that poll have yet to be released.
When the name change plan was first mooted, Rademan said: “The EP Rugby Union executive have already decided that the name must change. We have dealt with SA Rugby and there is no problem from their side.
“The executive thought it was a good idea, but it is not easy just changing a name. There are different stakeholders and role players involved,
“We are going to run a poll with the public. Firstly, do they want the name changed and secondly what would they like the new name to be.”
Rademan said he had wanted a name change for a number of reasons.
“There is a lot of baggage around this name. When you speak to sponsors there is a lot of negativity around the Kings.
“That is why the executive felt it must change.”