EP KingsABSA Currie Cup Premier Division exclusion just another hurdle to be overcome for Eastern Province Rugby

Eastern Province Rugby Union President, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that the proposal to expand the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division from six teams to eight next year was not passed during a special general meeting held in Johannesburg today.

The proposal, which was tabled with SARU at the end of the Super Rugby season, was initially presented to the unions at a special general meeting held on the 19th of September, but the vote was delayed till the 30th for further consideration.

Watson confirmed that, while the final vote was in favour of the amended structure of the competition, with a 19 / 10 split, the motion didn’t carry because it required a 75% majority vote.

“There were a lot of people in the room who were shocked by the outcome and were astounded by the short-sightedness of the unions that voted against this proposal,” he said.
“This is just another hurdle that we will have to overcome,” said Watson.

“We are used to fighting from the trenches. We have shown the world what can be done, despite what many claimed were insurmountable obstacles that stood in our path for our participation in Super Rugby, and we will continue to do so,” he said.

Watson said the decision meant that the Southern Kings were once again back on the fringes of the Super Rugby competition, as the initial proposal was that the Southern Kings would forfeit their right to promotion relegation next year, should EP Rugby be promoted to the premier division, to provide stability to both the Southern Kings and Lions franchises.

“Since this has not happened, it means that we will now play against the bottom ranked team of the South African Super Rugby franchises at the end of the season next year, in a promotion relegation playoff, as the Lions did against us this year,” he said.

EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, who was also at the meeting, said that this did not mean the end of top flight rugby in the region.

“With our ongoing preparations for our re-entry into Super Rugby, we will be hosting a number of friendlies against the other South African franchises next year,” he said.
Crous said they were in negotiations with SA Rugby to determine the dates and times of the friendlies and would communicate this as soon as the information was available.
“We are also in advanced stages of negotiations and are endeavouring to ensure viable other top flight rugby products in the future for our spectators, sponsors and partners,” he said.

“We said previously that there is a hunger for top flight rugby in the Eastern Cape and the amazing crowds that attended the Super Rugby games at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this year have shown that this is the case, with the Southern Kings securing the third highest crowd attendances of the fifteen teams taking part in the competition,” he said.
Watson said the union would continue to focus on the development taking place within Eastern Province Rugby.

“We have always maintained that there is a clear plan in place for the region, despite the Southern Kings relegation at the end of the Super Rugby season this year,” he said.
“Our plan is to build on the solid foundations that have been put in place by our debut in Super Rugby, and to develop local talent and provide them with opportunities to compete, without them having to go to other unions to do so,” he said.

Watson said EP Rugby had already provided opportunities for young local talent developed through the Kings Academy, creating local role models such as Sergeal Petersen, Siviwe Soyizwapi and Aidon Davis.

“The benefits of our Academy in terms of transformation are already clearly visible, with the EP Kings Currie Cup first division team having fielded up to nine black players in the starting 15, and four black substitutes on the bench.”

“Our Under 21 side, which is currently top of their respective log, and which is dominating their opposition, is predominantly made up of players of colour, with only five white players in the squad,” he said.
“The fact is that Eastern Province Rugby Union has the potential to truly transform the entire South African rugby landscape, through developing our local talent, providing them with the platforms to showcase their talent, and reach their full potential.”

“We have the structures in place to develop these players to be the best professional athletes they can be, and we have the opportunities to provide these individuals with exposure to top flight rugby over the next few years,” said Watson

Watson said that, through this approach, when the Southern Kings once again took up their rightful place in Super Rugby, the team would be able to showcase the talent that has come from the region.

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  1. Time to incorporate those 6 teams into the Super Rugby home derbies, drop the VC and quit wasting money…

    But that means Kwas drops out and the Kings are ‘gifted’ their ‘rightful place’ again…

  2. @bryce_in_oz:

    I do feel sorry for Griquas, they really deserve to be in Currie Cup rugby if only due to the competitiveness of their team. But this is supposed to be a proffesional sport, and you have to go to where the support and audience will be.

    Take a look at pro sport in the US, if an NFL, NBA or Major League team feel there’s a better deal to be had in a different city, they would move, it has happened before. Sad but true.

    We want to take rugby in SA to task for not being proffesional enough, but then do not want them to make decisions that would bring in more supporters and attendance at stadia.

    It is a difficult one, and I love the Griquas, have had family members playing for them in the Currie Cup way back when, so I am glad I do not have to make this decision.

  3. @Craven:

    For sure…


    Indeed… how many years now have EP been in the 2nd division CC and even an entire season in the S15 and they ‘still’ cannot qualify for the premier division… and I don’t care how many POC’s are in the starting team nor 22… yet the terms ‘rightful’ place in Super Rugby are bandied about…

    Now compare that to a tiny union in the Kwas…

    But this topic is nothing new and highlights a mentality now so deeply ingrained in RSA across all sectors…

    It’s sad…

  4. It is not about EP rugby for me, it is more about this six team competition which I do not really like.

    I was routing for the CC to go to eight teams again and give more players exposure at a higher level.

    Again this decision shows me that we have money chasers at council and not rugby people their.

  5. 6 team currie cup is the right decision for me. Sa Fans will never be happy. When we had 8 teams, people were complaining that the games between the top unions and the also rans in the last 2 positions were onesided and boring. Now we have a 6 team strentgh vs strentgh comp and the ruigby we have seen is really good. I will allways support the 6 team cc format.

  6. Mark my words… with 6 teams there will be fiscal pressure to amalgamate the CC into home S15 derbies… this is where the issue lies… Kwas will be the one’s losing out…

  7. Screw the Kings.

    If you want in win the Promotion relegation.

    Klaar gepraat…

    They had their chances time and again to do so and they failed…

  8. Boland, Border, SWD, Leopards and Falcons voted against the expansion which would have seen the Pumas and EP join the top flight next year.

    Again I am saying this was not a rugby decision. It is just plain stupid.

    This is not about Cheeky or EP rugby it is about South African rugby and the exposure that 60 extra players will get in CC.

    @DavidS: Too say that is being small minded if you think this was just about given the Kings a free pass.

  9. Sad really, Griquas gave many of the so-called top sides a wake up call … how come NZ manages to have a highly successful ITM cup with wait for it .. 14 teams??

    OK the comp is divided into a 7 team Premier Div and a 7 team Championship Div but there are cross-division games played and just this last weekend, at least 2 Championship sides beat their supposedly superior Premier div opponents.

    Before anyone argues about small crowds, the games are all televised and eagerly watched around the country 5 days of the week that games are played. In fact Monday and Tuesday nights when no games are played seem rather empty …

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