There is a wide range of sanctions available
The Southern Kings could face being kicked out of Super Rugby if they continue to breach the South African Rugby Union's foreign policy.
In a strongly worded statement SARU on Tuesday confirmed that they are to "investigate" the Kings and if found in breach of the organisation's regulations, expulsion is one of the sanctions.
The latest development follows a day after the Kings arrived in New Zealand with four foreigners in their 26-man tour squad - two more than the allowed quota for a 30-man Super Rugby squad.
New Zealand utility back Hadleigh Parkes, Argentineans Tomàs Leonardi (loose forward) and Nicolas Vergallo (scrumhalf), as well as French hooker Virgile Lacombe are all in the Kings' touring squad.
Already without captain Luke Watson (throat injury) and stand-in skipper Darron Nell (calf strain), the Kings appear to have pushed the envelope just once too often for SARU.
This follows after they fielded three foreigners in the loss to the Chiefs last Friday.
Parkes started at inside centre against the Chiefs last Friday, with Leonardi and Vergallo coming off the bench.
SARU made it clear on Tuesday that they will not tolerate these breaches.
"The South African Rugby Union has established an investigation into a suspected breach of SARU's Super Rugby participation agreement by the Southern Kings," SARU said in a statement.
"Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, contacted Cheeky Watson, the chairman of the Kings board, on Tuesday to advise him of the inquiry and also to caution him against any potential breaches.
"The matter was discussed by an emergency teleconference of the Executive Council (Exco) of SARU on Tuesday. The Exco, in accordance with the SARU Disciplinary and Judicial Regulations, decided to appoint a judicial sub-committee to investigate the allegation.
"In the event of a breach being proved there is a wide range of sanctions available, starting from a caution to a maximum fine of R1-million or a recommendation to the General Council to suspend or expel the offending organisation."
The Kings squad arrived safely in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Monday - after a gruelling 26-hour journey.
They face the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Brumbies and Rebels on their Australasian tour.
Southern Kings squad: Andries Strauss, Bandise Maku, Cornell Du Preez, Daniel Adongo, David Bulbring, Demetri Catrakilis, Elric Van Vuuren, George Whitehead, Grant Kemp, Hadleigh Parkes, Jaco Engels, Jacques Engelbrecht, Johannes Franklin, Kevin Buys, Marcello Sampson, Nicolas Vergallo, Ronald Cooke, Rynier Bernardo, Schalk Ferreira, Sergeal Petersen, Shaun Venter, Steven Sykes, Tomas Leonardi, Virgile Lacombe, Waylon Murray, Wimpie van der Walt.