Ricochet News

Southern Kings deserve to stay in Super Rugby – CEO Crous

By Marc Jacobson - Apr 5, 2017
Southern Kings deserve to stay in Super Rugby – CEO Crous

Following media reports suggesting that for the betterment of Super Rugby, speculations indicated that the tournament should be reduced from the current 18 teams to 15 teams.

With this altercation, it was proposed by SANZAAR that two South African sides and one Australian side be axed from the competition, while retaining Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves, for the priority to expand the game onto other continents.

The two SA sides under the cosh for axing being the Southern Kings and the Free State Cheetahs, and this especially coming after former 1995 World Cup winning Springbok flyhalf, Joel Stransky, hit out at the two unions for not being economically and financially viable when talking to New Zealand’s Radio Sport.

Stransky backed up the decision to axe the Kings and the Cheetahs by saying, “Financially they are not sustainable. They have very low supporter bases during Super Rugby and they're in the middle of the country, they churn out great young talents but they are not places that can economically sustain a team.”

The Cheetahs Rugby Union earlier in the week countered Stranksy’s comments, implying he was ‘ill-informed’, and it was the Southern Kings’ CEO, Charl Crous, this time-round who foiled Stranksy’s remarks.

“Before people start talking about teams being kicked out, perhaps they should first have to look at the facts. Despite all the uncertainty around competition structures, the Southern Kings have made a major contribution to South African rugby since 2006. The Kings were a platform for several top players’ Super Rugby debuts," Crous told Netwerk24.  

“It’s been tough to lure sponsors due to economic uncertainty and a lack of stability but there are unbelievable opportunities in the region. Players who have represented the Kings are stars around the world,” Crous said.

To shed some light on Crous’ comments, the Southern Kings have in the past managed to harness some palpable talent who have made names for themselves elsewhere after rooting in the Eastern Cape.

Such players include SP Marais who is now starring at the Stormers, formerly Jacques Potgieter who made a name for himself at the Bulls after relocating from the Kings – he then went on to play for the Springboks and the same Waratahs’ side who won the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.

Shane Gates who played for the Southern Kings last year is now glimmering at the Shining Arcs in Japan and hopes to have Japanese national aspirations some day.

Wimpie van der Walt is another player that was part of the 2013 Southern Kings’ outfit, who is also now making a name for himself in Japan playing for the Docomo Red Hurricanes. Cornell du Preez, also a part of the 2013 Kings system, is now playing for Edinburgh in Scotland and remains a hopeful prospect to play for Scotland's national side soon.

“Just think about someone like Cornell du Preez, who is now making his mark in Scotland. Locally, there are several from the Eastern Cape, among others Sergeal Petersen, Lizo Gqoboka, Curwin Bosch and Lukhanyo Am who are performing for other franchises,” Crous added.

Not always even representing the Kings, but the Eastern Cape region has also managed to form the grassroots of much rugby talent in schooling, but have then moved elsewhere to star for other unions.

These names include: Siya Kolisi, schooled at Grey High and now Springbok flank and Stormers’ captain; Kurt Coleman also schooled at Grey High and now one of the Stormers’ flyhalf pivots.

Curwin Bosch, who is now starring for the Sharks also went to Grey High and is one of the most talked-about flyhalves at the moment and was the SA Under-20 player of the year in 2016. His former Grey High teammate, Jeremy Ward, captained the SA Under-20 last year and is also currently playing on the fringes for the Sharks.    

Image: Southern Kings' CEO, Charl Crous.