In the midst of the financial crisis at the Kings, supporters have launched a campaign to aid the cash-strapped players, which has seen over R50,000 being raised.
Players earmarked to form part of the Southern Kings’ Vodacom Super Rugby squad have received their written offers from Saru, although this is believed to have only included a limited number of current senior players, while also requiring them to accept a pay cut.
Despite serious questions having been raised over the actions and regulations related to the contracting process of a new company running the Southern Kings entity, negotiations and remonstrations continue.
Meanwhile, players who are not in line to receive Super Rugby contracts, and remain contracted to EP Rugby, are still unpaid, with many believed to be in dire financial straits.
As the desperation of players has increased, the Kings’ Red&Black Army supporters group launched a fund to assist the players.
After donations, auctions, memorabilia sales and fund-raisers, nearly R30,000 has been raised, while the Eastern Cape Spar donated store vouchers to the value of R23,000. Another R15 000 from one donor was also said to have come in on Friday.
Various players took to social media on Friday to express their gratitude.
‘On behalf of all the players, we'd just like to say a massive thank you to everyone that's been in support and for all the donations you have made,’ outgoing player Michael van Vuuren commented. ‘It's been an extremely tough time for all involved and all your hard work and sacrifice doesn't go unnoticed, we are all extremely humbled by your generosity.’
These sentiments were echoed by Ronnie Cooke, one of the individuals who led a player group in handing over a petition of grievances to EPRU president Cheeky Watson.
‘It's one thing to support from the stand, but when you start supporting from your own pocket, that really touches the heart. I'm proud to be associated with this region and with its people.’
Scrumhalf Dwayne Kelly wrote: ‘It has not been an easy time for us players but we are getting through with all the support we have received and are still receiving.’
Carel Greeff was another to add his voice to the chorus of gratitude.
'Massive thank you to all the people involved in supporting the team in this troubled time. I'm one of the newbies at the Kings, and need to say that I haven't experienced such a positive support system. We all know that everyone wants to see the guys back on that field come 27 February against the Sharks. Going through this time I know that all the guys with that jersey on will make it worthwhile, the motivation we receive and have is immense.'