Saru bails out Kings

Saru has agreed to take control of the Kings franchise in Vodacom Super Rugby due to their ongoing financial woes.

The action followed a decision taken by the executive council of Saru some weeks ago to step in if certain expectations were not met. The decision was actioned as a result of the ongoing cash flow problems at the Eastern Province Rugby Union after the president of EP, Cheeky Watson, contacted Oregan Hoskins, the president of Saru, to ask him to assist.

'We gave the Kings as long as possible to resolve their issues through their own efforts, but the point had been reached where they could wait no longer,' Hoskins said. 'It is a decision we have had to take reluctantly but it is now 102 days until Super Rugby moves into a new era with new teams and new nations taking part, and we collectively agreed we could not allow South Africa’s new entrant to be underprepared.'

Jurie Roux, CEO of Saru, said that the organisation had undertaken some contingency planning in the event of Saru being required to take control and those plans would now be put into operation.

'We have already had conversations around off-field and on-field preparations but I don’t want to mislead anyone, there is still much to do,' said Roux. 'For the moment we will be working behind the scenes to sort out the various issues that we need to address. In the meantime we want to thank the rugby fans of Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape for their patience and ask them to have just a little more while we finalise those plans.

'I hope that we will be able to reveal the new management processes of the Kings and other details in a week or two. For the moment, our focus is on sorting out the finances and identifying the playing and coaching needs for Super Rugby participation.'

The Kings kick off their Super Rugby campaign with a home match against the Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 27 February.

Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis