The Southern Kings announced their reduced, 35-man squad for their Super Rugby campaign which still contains 5 foreign players.
The tug-of-war between the Kings and SARU on the number of foreign based players allowed for the franchise has been going since 2012.
The Kings, who only has a 1-year guaranteed deal for participation in Super Rugby (from where a promotion/relegation match will determine the line up for 2014) has argued that in order for them to be competitive SA Rugby needs to make a concession to allow them more foreign players than the current maximum of two allowed per franchise.
SA Rugby in turn has stood by the standard protocol which applies to all franchises which has now seemingly resulted in a Mexican stand-off between the Kings and the governing body.
By announcing their 35-man squad containing 5 foreign based players, the Kings have sent a clear message to SARU that they are not about to budge and that the call is now firmly in SARU’s court.
Should SARU decide not to accept the Kings squad things could get really ugly for both parties a mere two weeks out before the South African conference kicks off.
Now, we wait with bated breath on SARU’s response…
Southern Kings Super Rugby 35 player squad
|Schalk Ferrreira||Shaun Venter|
|Jaco Engels||Johan Herbst|
|Hannes Franklin||Nicolas Vergallo|
|Virgile Lacombe||Demetri Catrakillis|
|Bandise Maku||George Whitehead|
|Edgar Marutlulle||Andries Strauss|
|Kevin Buys||Hadleigh Parkes|
|Grant Kemp||Ronnie Cooke|
|Steven Sykes||Waylon Murray|
|David Bullbring||Michael Killian|
|Darron Nell||Sergeal Petersen|
|Rynier Bernardo||Marcello Sampson|
|Daniel Adongo||Siyanda Grey|
|Wimpie van der Walt||SP Marais|
|Mpho Mbiyozo||Elric van Vuuren|
|Cornell du Preez|
|Luke Watson (Captain)|
Kings Statement on squad and 5 foreign players
Following the announcement of the wider squad of 35 players earlier today, there have been a number of media queries relating to the fact that all five foreign players are still listed in the squad.
Please note the following, to be attributed to Eastern Province Rugby President, Cheeky Watson.
The squad announced today is the wider squad that has been requested by SANZAR, and which had to be submitted to them ahead of the official start of the season, in line with their tournament rules and regulations.
This squad could be reduced further in due course.
February 14, 2012
So, what’s new? One year, they are complaining that the tournament scheduling is unfair because, they argue, it favours the Australian and New Zealand teams. The next, they are moaning about wanting to head to Europe because they play in the same time zone.
Now they are complaining they don’t have enough teams in the tournament – and that if the tournament is not expanded from a Super 15 to Super 16, they will boycott the event.
Forget about it. It’s not going to happen. It is just the latest in a long line of the type of political bluster of which South African rugby officials are the masters. The Super Rugby ranks were all a tizz yesterday when a South African newspaper claimed the five local teams had threatened to boycott next year’s tournament if any of them were excluded at the expense of the Southern Kings.
The Rapport newspaper said the Stormers, Bulls, Lions, Cheetahs and Sharks had sent a letter detailing their demands to the South African Rugby Union, including that none of them would be eliminated from the tournament next year, when the Kings are added to the Super Rugby ranks. The Kings hail from the Eastern Cape, the South African province that boasts the most black players.
The concern of the South African Super Rugby teams is that unless there are six South African teams in next year’s tournament, which will mean expanding to a 16-team competition, one of them will have to be cut to make way for the Kings.
The two provinces most under threat hail from the highveld – the Lions and the Cheetahs. Adding to the pressure is that the South African authorities have already said a merger of those two is not on the table.
Instead, a relegation system has been proposed, causing concern among all the South African provinces. So the boycott threat is all about survival and putting pressure on the local authorities not to give the Kings an easy leg-up.
Not surprisingly, South African officials yesterday tried to play down the boycott threat, but did acknowledge there was friction among the five existing Super Rugby teams over the Kings’ inclusion. To try to keep all their constituents happy, the SARU will continue lobbying their Australian and New Zealand partners to get an extra team. But they have no hope of success.
As Australian Rugby Union chief executive and SANZAR board member John O’Neill told the Herald last week: ”We’re in the second year of a five-year deal where we sold to the broadcasters a 15-team competition. Changing that midstream is not really on.”
The Super 15 will remain the Super 15 until at least 2016 – and one South African province will have to go to allow the Kings to come in. End of story.
A further milestone in the establishment and operation of a Super Rugby franchise in the South Eastern Cape was reached earlier this week in Port Elizabeth when representatives of Border Rugby Union, Eastern Province Rugby and the South Western Districts Rugby Union formally concluded and signed a Cooperation Agreement.