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Lions give Kings the finger

Fri, 21 Sep 2012 10:21
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The Lions refused to entertain our request to loan us players
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Super Rugby rookies the Southern Kings have spat the dummy, claiming their ability to recruit players for 2013 has been "severely hampered".

They also revealed that the relegated Lions franchise has effectively given them the finger, refusing to entertain a request to loan the Kings players for their debut in Super Rugby next year.

In a statement in which they set out to explain why they want the South African Rugby Union to give them special dispensation to recruit more than the regulation two foreign players, the Kings claim they have had to embark on the route of "recruiting players in an abnormal manner".

They slam SARU for the delay in announcing their entry into Super Rugby, adding that the one-year window afforded to them is not enough to secure players who are keen to obtain long-term contracts.

The statement, headlined 'Trying to contract in an abnormal environment', highlighted the "uncertainty and delay" of the announcement of the Southern Kings' participation, as well as "financial constraints" as the main reasons for their problems with recruiting.

The Southern Kings' statement in full: "Trying to contract in an abnormal environment

"The decision of granting us, Southern Kings, participation in Super Rugby from 2013 has been met with a welcome relief.  However, our ability to recruit Super Rugby players for 2013 has been severely hampered:
* the uncertainty and delay of the announcement of the Southern Kings' participation meant that many players were reluctant to sign their names of the dotted line
* the financial constraints (Super Rugby financial revenue streams and uncertainty regarding basis (amount and term) has limited our ability on how long we could contract players for

"We have been very vocal about our desires to develop and promote local talent, and in particular to accelerate the transformation of South African Rugby and to develop quality black Springboks. As a result we have put a strong focus on developing and maintaining an Academy which is made up of predominantly home grown talent, with a strong commitment to a bottom-up transformation strategy.

"Despite being unable to retain the most of our local talent without the attraction of Super Rugby until now, we are confident with the strides that our Academy has made and it is evident already that it is starting to bear fruits. Already we have a number of players in the Academy who will be part of the Super Rugby squad for 2013. Soyiswapi Siviwe (15) Yamkela Ngam (14) Kuhle Sonkosi (4) Lizo Gqoboka (3/1), Thembelani Bholi (6) and Shane Gates (12) have all been identified by our Management team (who all have Super Rugby and international experience) as players who have the technique, acumen and physical characteristics to become quality Super Rugby players.

"There is a precedent in place that SANZAR member countries are only allowed to field two international players. The ARU (also members of SANZAR) have made an exception to this rule by allowing heir newly formed Melbourne Rebels to field more foreign players in their team. The motivation for this was to prevent the destabilizing effect of initial mass recruitment from other franchises, when a new franchise starts. Due to SARU making the announcement of our participation on 16/8/2012 it has led to us having difficulty with recruiting players due to:
* The European window period for recruiting players being closed (with the only available players being those out of contracts)- interested South African players are only available in May 2013, by which time we'll be too deep into the competition
* The delayed announcement has seen many local players whose contracts expired this year renew their contracts
* The Lions refusing to entertain our request to loan us players for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign
* The one-year entry into Super Rugby and without a track record, has impacted our ability to recruit players

"It is in light of the above, that we have had to embark on the route of recruiting players in an abnormal manner, and with our desire and aspirations of having long-term participation in Super Rugby we are requesting SARU to extend/ alter the current ruling of only fielding two foreign players, for a short-term, thus allowing us the time to adequately prepare our young players for the demands and pressures of Super Rugby, as well as giving us the opportunity to contract players in a normal manner going into the future.

"It is important that we field quality players who will be able to see us through the 2013 Super Rugby competition, and with the current plethora of challenges facing us we have no alternative but to make this urgent request to SARU."

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