Ricochet News

Southern Kings in full swing, despite EPRU American investment uncertainty

By Marc Jacobson - Dec 21, 2016
Southern Kings in full swing, despite EPRU American investment uncertainty

The Southern Kings Super Rugby group are heading into a two-and-a-half-week Christmas and New Years break, before returning to pre-season training in January for progression into the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

The Kings will kick their campaign off against the Jaguares on February 25th at the NMB Stadium in Port Elizabeth and the side was fortunate this time round to elevate a sufficient pre-season and conditioning program, which they were not able to do last year due to off-field restrictions.

Regardless of the uncertainty for the future of the EP Rugby franchise, regarding a monetary rescue plan for the union; the team as a whole are still drilling for a better and fitter execution heading into the 2017 Super Rugby season.

Even during this end-of-year break, Southern Kings conditioning coach, Nadus Nieuwoudt, emphasizes that fitness, as well as mental preparation on and off the field is key for the team to be well-prepared in the resumption of their pre-season in January.

“We are currently in the second phase. We may be going on a break, but from Thursday the players will begin their holiday programme. The guys have to keep grinding and focus on what is important so that we can hit the ground running in January. They know that the ball is in their court now,” Nieuwoudt told the Southern Kings’ media forums.

The first phase, reportedly, comprised of drills of strength, focus and endurance in the gym and/or running; which also included fitness drills on the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay Beach, as well as martial arts physical technique learnt-skills at the Evolution MMA gym.

“It has really been a great pre-season. We are fortunate that we are not in the same position we were in last year where we did not have our pre-season the way we would have liked to. That has made a huge difference this year where we can work from a base where the players are conditioned well and we have ticked a lot of our boxes,” Nieuwoudt said.

“We brought in a lot of new elements which included off-sight training, sprint coaching, MMA (mixed martial arts) and some dunes (running) sessions which were all good for them,” he added.

Meanwhile, recent reports suggest that there seems to be uncertainty for a revival from a US investor from the union’s bankruptcy, in a significantly tumultuous agreement between EP Rugby, SA Rugby and its American money hand, Pro Rugby.

"We are still hopeful we can be involved with [the] EPRU. There are issues that SARU and EPRU need to sort out prior to having discussions with a third party. We look forward to hearing back from SARU,” Douglas Schoninger, boss of Pro Rugby in America told the Rugby365 website.

This comes after SARU poured cold water on an investment revival, saying that these investments with the Kings are exaggerated and entirely misleading. SA Rugby has then referred all such claims back to the liquidator in the liquidation process of EPRU and USA Rugby.

"USA Rugby has told us [Pro Rugby] and SARU, that since it does not know the details of the partnership, they cannot issue support," Schoninger further said.  

"USA Rugby will support a plan, if presented, as it will be constructive to the growth of the game in the USA,” Schoninger added.

Schoninger went on to say that they would be awaiting an agreement with SARU for the cash loan investment in EPRU.

"Our position is: If SARU feels that we can help find a solution to the EP situation, then we will be very eager to try. On the other hand, if SARU does not want our help or involvement we will completely respect that and discontinue our efforts," he said.

Taking note that Pro Rugby is an American Professional Rugby Union competition, which began in April 2016 and is sanctioned by USA Rugby and World Rugby, and has plans in-line to expand in 2017.

Presenting this backdrop, the Southern Kings, most likely to be aided by SARU, are in full preparation for the season ahead; while the EPRU aim to alleviate their off-field woes through a promising uncertain investment. With this in mind, this monetary warfare should not inflict on the Southern Kings heading into 2017 to any degree. 

Image: Dever and Ohio in action for the 2016 Pro Rugby title in July.