Southern Kings unlikely to join SuperRugby soon

The Southern Kings’ participation in Super Rugby from the 2013 tournament and beyond are again in doubt after they were loosely told they would be included.

The Kings were formed as a potential sixth South African Super Rugby team when Super Rugby expanded from a 14 team format to a 15 team format.

The Kings went up against the Melbourne Rebels who won the 15th team licence and joined the Australian conference which gave South Africa, Australia and New Zealand each five teams.

South African Rugby want a sixth Super Rugby team as they have given the government a commitment to have them in Super Rugby after the government built the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium for the Football world cup and had hoped that the Kings would be based there.

As the stadium is becoming a White Elephant the South African government is putting South African rugby under pressure to include the Kings but Die Burger newspaper has reported that several rugby officials feel the Kings’ automatic inclusion in the 2013 tournament is not in the best interests of South African rugby.

Rumour has it that South African rugby officials told the Southern Kings that they would be included in Super Rugby if their Currie Cup franchise the EP Kings won promotion from the Currie Cup First Division to the Premier Division but they failed to achieve this in 2011.

The Kings have also suffered from a lack of transformation and even played two New Zealanders – Ross Kennedy and Clint Newland – in this year’s Currie Cup First Division final which they lost 43-12 to the Boland Cavaliers.

As they lost the final they are effectively ranked as the 10th best Rugby Union in South Africa while Border and SWD – who are the Southern Kings’ other representatives – finished last and second last respectively in the First Division, which makes them the two weakest provincial teams in South Africa.

SANZAR confirmed earlier this year that an expansion of Super Rugby before the current 15 team format has run it’s five year course which means that if the Kings want to be in Super Rugby they will have to replace one of the current five South African teams.

The Lions finished last in the 2011 Super Rugby tournament but went on to win the Currie Cup title beating the Sharks in the final.

The situation leaves South African Rugby with a dilemma as they are obliged to play their best teams in Super Rugby and if the Kings made up up of the 10th, 13th and 14th best teams they are a long way off the top five.

The only solution appears to be to give the Southern Kings the opportunity to qualify for Super Rugby by playing their way into the tournament. The format for that qualification is yet to be decided.

“The other team that is effected by the Kings’ inclusion also has to be looked after. The decision has to be in the best interests of South African rugby,” Die Burger was told.

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