Cheeky: One-year stint a mistake

EPRU president Cheeky Watson says the Kings should not have accepted structures that saw them feature in Vodacom Super Rugby for a single season in 2013. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Although the Kings finished bottom of the overall log in their debut season, they won three games and drew one, while proving to be competitive in a number of other encounters.

Having finished bottom of the South African conference, the Kings went into a promotion-relegation battle against the Lions, and were ultimately demoted from Super Rugby after losing the two-leg series on points difference.

With the Kings facing an uncertain future, director of rugby Alan Solomons took up a head coaching position at Edinburgh, with defence coach Omar Mouneimne following Solomons to Scotland, while a number of players also left.

After a tumultuous couple of years, the Kings’ buildup to next year's re-entry into Super Rugby has been dogged with financial woes, with a long-touted sponsorship failing to materialise, leading to Saru finally deciding to bail the Kings out by taking control of the franchise.

When addressing the media earlier this week, Watson remained defiant, but admitted it had been an error to only accept the guarantee of one year’s involvement in Super Rugby.

‘We’ve achieved a lot in a short space of time, we’ve achieved things that people never thought we’d achieve. But our 2013 campaign, in hindsight, was a mistake. We should never have accepted one year because it never gave us time to raise sponsorship. I think all the people we engaged with before 2013 said that if we were in Super Rugby, they’d be interested in being involved. But when you’re only in Super Rugby for one year, it becomes difficult.’

Watson said he remained confident that a new sought-after sponsorship would materialise, having recently returned from an overseas trip where he was said to have entered into negotiations to expedite the release of the funds.

‘Yes, we’ve run into trouble, but this is the situation we’ve found ourselves in and we have to face it head on. We must ensure we’re in Super Rugby, and ensure we build from now going forward to be competitive.’

Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis