Watson: Pumas are not 'foreigners'

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:39
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The Southern Kings have hit back at SARU in their long-standing dispute over the Port Elizabeth-based team's use of foreign imports.

The Southern Kings have hit back at the South African Rugby Union in their long-standing dispute over the Port Elizabeth-based team's use of foreign imports.

Cheeky Watson, the Chairman of the Kings board, confirmed that he has been in contact with SARU over claims that they had breached the organisation's regulations.

Watson, in a a statement, said that their two Argentineans - Tomàs Leonardi (loose forward) and Nicolas Vergallo (scrumhalf) - should not be regarded as foreigners.

The latest development follows a day after the Kings arrived in New Zealand with four foreign players 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, the two Argentineans Leonardi and Vergallo, as well as French hooker Virgile Lacombe are all in the Kings' touring squad.

This follows after they fielded three foreigners in the loss to the Chiefs last Friday.

Parkes started at inside against the Chiefs last Friday, with Leonardi and Nicolas coming off the bench.

Watson on Tuesday confirmed that he was contacted telephonically by the leadership of SARU in connection with the issue of foreign players that were fielded during the game against the Chiefs.

"I have received a call from SA Rugby, and while there is a difference of opinion relating to the definition of foreign players, it is my duty to submit to the guidance of the governing body of SARU," Watson said.

Elaborating on the issue of the definition of foreign players, Watson said: "In the process leading up to the signing of foreign players last year, we were led to believe and even encouraged to sign Argentinean players - who currently participate in the Vodacom Cup as the Pampas - with the understanding that they would not be considered as foreign players, in the same way as Daniel Adongo, who is from Kenya, is not considered a foreign player.

"That being said, the sanctions which are being considered against the Southern Kings, as per the statement issued by SARU, have been clearly conveyed to me," he said.

Watson said that in light of this, the decision has been made to submit to SARU's guidance on the matter.

"I am on record as having clearly stated that our treatment and entrance into Super Rugby, and the entire process to date, has disadvantaged us tremendously," said Watson.

"However, no-one can dispute the fact that we are the first of the Super Rugby franchises added to the competition to have won our first game. We have also had a record of over 100,000 spectators through the gates of Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in our first three home games," he said.

"We have proven in the last three games that we have played, by the attendance and the support of the spectators that we will fight and we will show our true colours as our emblem emblazons, the spear and the shield," he said.

"As Winston Churchill once said: 'We shall never surrender'."

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