Isuzu Southern Kings need 'emergency treatment'
Another thumping defeat – coupled with a sparse attendance of die hard supporters – has emphasised the need for a root-and-branch review of the limping Isuzu Southern Kings.
There were only 1,792 fans at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday for the Kings’ final home game of the season, against the Ospreys, when they crashed to a 43-7 defeat.
Now under private ownership, the business consortium which runs the franchise has been given another warning that changes are needed to turn its fortunes around.
In 20 outings, the Kings have won only twice and serious questions are being raised in Europe about what benefits the South African side bring to the Guinness PRO14 tournament.
In November last year, the Kings went into the PRO14 record books for the wrong reason.
Their attendance of only 1,142 fans for their match against the champions, Leinster, at the Madibaz Stadium at the start of season was the smallest in the history of the competition.
In its report on the Ospreys match, the WalesOnline website noted: “The Eastern Province franchise haven’t got many supporters, but have some lovely choir-type singers among them.
“They were in great voice during the first half against the Ospreys despite the Kings being 33 points behind.
“But they went on strike or had enough and left early because it went deathly quiet during the second half.”
After his consortium took control of the franchise, Kings chair Loyiso Dotwana said: “The PRO14 organisation has raised concerns about the Southern Kings’ performances and value to the tournament.
“We are on a tightrope with PRO14 and we will respond to those challenges in a positive way.
“So we will recruit some good players in the short term to improve our quality.”
While there was little for the Kings to celebrate, the Ospreys returned to Wales with their PRO14 playoff hopes still alive.
They will secure a playoff against the fourth-placed finisher from Pool B for the final place in the European showpiece by beating Cardiff Blues at the Principality Stadium on April 27.
Ospreys coach Allen Clarke said scoring five first-half tries had sealed the deal for his team.
“I thought we were really good after the Kings came at us really hard in the first 10 minutes and they wanted to make a statement.
“But we stood up to that and scored a really good try and that settled us nicely and we scored five first-half tries,” Clarke said.
“It was important that we started the second half well and did not concede because we knew they would come out strong again.
“We were pleased because we rolled our whole bench early and everyone was involved and we came out on the right side of the scoreline in the second half as well.
“It was a wonderful two weeks in South Africa.”..