That means one of the existing franchises – the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls, Cheetahs or Lions – will be out of the lucrative tournament, unless Saru can somehow convince Sanzar (South Africa-New Zealand-Australia rugby) to allow a sixth South African team to play in the competition.
“The Kings’ place in the Super Rugby competition in 2013 was confirmed by the general council, who gave it 100% support,” Saru chief executive Jurie Roux told a news conference in Cape Town on Friday.
“A final decision on the fate of the other five franchises will be made at a special general meeting on March 30 after the council has considered recommendations by the unions. There are a number of options, including asking Sanzar to include a sixth South African team,” Roux said.
The Southern Kings are based in the Eastern Cape – the hotbed of black rugby – and their inclusion in Super Rugby has been backed by politicians and those unhappy with the pace of transformation in South African rugby. None of their constituent teams – Eastern Province, South-Western Districts and Border – play in the premier division of South Africa’s domestic Currie Cup competition.
Eastern Province were beaten 43-12 by Boland in last year’s First Division final.