SA Rugby to run cash-strapped Pro14 side Southern Kings


Johannesburg (AFP)

South Africa Rugby announced on Monday they had taken control of financially troubled Port Elizabeth-based Pro14 outfit the Southern Kings.

Apart from financial assistance, national director of rugby and 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus will work with Kings acting coach Robbie Kempson.

It is the second time in five years that SA Rugby has had to step in to keep afloat a side that faces constant financial challenges.

In the latest takeover, SA Rugby has inherited a 74 percent stake after the majority shareholder, GRC, failed to meet financial commitments.

"I cannot stress enough how reluctant we are to resume control of the Southern Kings," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.

"It is our last resort and we are keen to explore ways to return the shareholding to other hands.

"The next step is to appoint a new board to oversee affairs and ensure the team is match ready for when we are able to resume playing."

The Pro14 hopes to resume playing on August 22 after a coronavirus-induced shutdown, with the fixtures including a South African derby between the Kings and the Cheetahs.

Formerly a Super Rugby franchise, the Kings are bottom in the seven-team Conference B of Pro14 with just one victory, away to Welsh region the Ospreys last November, and 12 losses.

An annual competition, the Pro14 comprises outfits from Ireland, Wales (four each), Italy, Scotland and South Africa (two each).