Adongo a foreign 'freebie'
Jan de Koning looks at a widely-used custom and practice that allowed the Kings to field four 'foreigners' against the Sharks at the weekend.
After months of media hype, the Southern Kings finally introduced their foreign imports to the game. But there was an intriguing twist to the tale.
The irony is that the Port Elizabeth-based franchised finished the game against the Sharks in Port Elizabeth at the weekend with four 'foreigners'.
Argentinean scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo and New Zealand utility back Hadleigh Parkes, who were named in the original team list, both made second-half appearances off the bench.
Vergallo came on for Shaun Venter at half-time, while Parkes replaced Andries Strauss in the 66th minute. Parkes was an unused replacement in their opening match against the Western Force.
Kenyan import Daniel Adongo was not named in the original matchday 22, but became a late inclusion when captain Luke Watson pulled out as the result of the throat injury that has been troubling him since their opening match against the Western Force.
Adongo came on for Jacques Engelbrecht in the final 10 minutes. He was also an unused replacement against the Force.
The fourth 'foreigner' to feature against the Sharks is Jaco Engels - who came on as a first-half blood replacement for Schalk Ferreira and then a tactical substitution for Ferreira in the final quarter.
The reason why I am listing Engels as a foreigner is to emphasise the custom that has allowed Adongo to be included in the team without breaching the South African Rugby Union's ruling of only two foreigners per squad.
The veteran prop, Engels, is one of dozens of Namibians that have been playing in South Africa for decades and represented South African franchises in Super Rugby without being regarded as foreign players.
Engels had previously also played for the Leopards, Boland and Bulls.
Apart from Engels other recent Namibians include Jacques Burger, currently with Saracens in the English Premiership, but formerly with the Bulls, and Rohan Kitshoff, currently with Bordeaux Begles in France, but formerly with the Stormers.
Add to that Zimbabweans like Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks, pre his SA passport saga), Tonderai Chavhanga (Stormers and Lions) and Brian Mujati (Lions and Stormers) - all who became Springboks.
The same principle is being applied to Adongo, who previously also played for the Sharks and Bulls, as a player from the African continent.
The burly utility forward is thus not being regarded as a foreigner.
That means the Kings actually just have four genuine foreigners on their books - Parkes and Vergallo in the Super Rugby squad, with French hooker Virgile Lacombe and Argentinean loose forward Tomàs Leonardi playing for the EP Kings in the Vodacom Cup.
So, as they say, it is all above board in Port Elizabeth.
By Jan de Koning
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