Any change would have been prejudicial to SA’s other franchises
It is official! The South African Rugby Union confirmed on Monday that the Southern Kings will not be allowed more than the regulation two foreign players in their debut year in Super Rugby.
The Kings, after SARU rejected their initial request for special dispensation regarding the number of imports, proceeded to sign additional foreigners.
Kenyan forward Daniel Adongo, New Zealand utility back Hadleigh Parkes, French hooker Virgil Lacombe, along with Argentinean players Nicolas Vergallo and Tomas Leonardi were all signed by the Kings and have been training with the expectation of playing Super Rugby when the competition kicks off next month.
However, SARU, at a meeting last Friday, decided that the status quo remains.
"A request from the Kings was discussed," SARU CEO Jurie Roux told this website on Monday.
"It was decided that any exception would be in conflict with the principle behind the creation of the Kings, which was of providing Super Rugby playing opportunities for players from the region.
"Any change would also have been prejudicial to South Africa's other franchises, who may also have wished to sign additional non-South African qualified players."
This means three of the Kings' imports would find themselves surplus to requirements.
Kings President Cheeky Watson, who said they "will accept and abide by the decision", revealed that they will not send any of their foreigners packing.
"We will not be releasing any of our foreign players, as there are still ample opportunities within our structures for them to contribute," Watson said in a statement.
Despite Roux's confirmation - to this website on Monday - Watson said the Southern Kings have not received any official confirmation from SARU on this matter.
"If this is the case, we will accept and abide by the decision of SARU," he said in a statement, adding: "We know that the region has never been fed with a silver spoon, and have no reason to expect any different going into our debut Super Rugby Season.
"The path for this region to get a Super Rugby franchise has been fraught with challenges, and yet, despite all the odds, we have overcome them and Super Rugby is a reality, with our first game against Western Force less than a month away.
"We accept that this opportunity comes from a loaded deck of cards, but the bigger the challenge, the bigger the task, the bigger the team and the overall success."
By Jan de Koning