CAPE TOWN // The South African Rugby Union says it expects to announce details of its rescue plans for the Southern Kings early next week after the Super Rugby franchise’s preparations for the 2016 season were thrown into turmoil by a cash crisis.
The Port Elizabeth-based team are to be the sixth South African side in the expanded 18-team competition having previously competed for a single season in 2013.
But a financial crisis within Eastern Province Rugby, the union that controls the franchise, has seen a number of players break their contracts over non-payment of salaries and move to other teams.
This has prompted SARU to step in and take administrative control of the side and they revealed that following a planning meeting on Wednesday they are confident the team will be ready for their Super Rugby return.
“We have made major progress in preparing an implementation plan for the Super Rugby franchise,” SARU CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement.
“We have addressed issues around on-field and off-field structures and preparations, and are now moving through our governance and communication processes with stakeholders.
“I expect that process to be completed by early next week - after we have informed the SARU Exco - after which time we will be able to reveal all the details to the rugby public of Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape.
“We know the franchise has been slow out of the blocks but there was a spring in everyone’s step at the conclusion of today’s meeting. We’re optimistic about the road ahead.”
The Kings have yet to finalise their coaching team for the new season, and have already lost captain Tim Whitehead, prop Lizo Gqoboka and wing Luther Obi, the latter duo to the Bulls, who are also said to be in talks with Sylvian Mahuza, Thembelani Bholi and Tim Agaba.
The Kings are due to open their Super Rugby season against the Sharks in Port Elizabeth on Feb. 27.
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