Kings: Dramatic about turn
NEWS: There appears to have been a dramatic about turn in the protracted Eastern Province Kings Currie Cup saga.
Just a day after the national controlling body, South African Rugby, confirmed there is a proposal on the table to 'axe' the Kings from the country's premier domestic competition, it emerged that the bankrupt Port Elizabeth-based outfit may stay up after all.
rugby365 has reliably learnt that some provinces have balked at the idea of replacing the EP Kings with the Leopards in the Currie Cup Premier Division - as was proposed by SA Rugby.
In a media release on Monday SA Rugby said the EP Kings' Currie Cup status was to be confirmed on Tuesday.
However, the boardroom stand-off means that three days out from the start of the competition there remains uncertainty as to which teams would contest the Currie Cup.
This also comes just two days before the EP Rugby Union is facing a liquidation hearing in court.
A spokesman for SA Rugby told rugby365 that the "status quo remains" - as in the Kings are still in the Premier Division - but the situation is "fluid".
There is no indication when the matter will be resolved.
Some reports suggested the matter would only be finalised by Thursday, but there is no doubt that SA Rugby officials are now scrambling to resolve the chaotic situation.
There is no guarantee that SA Rugby would succeed in convincing the stubborn provincial delegates that make up the General Council, to promote the Leopards - who finished fourth in the qualifying competition.
In fact the Currie Cup could still be reduced to an eight-team competition - with both the Kings and Leopards playing in the First Division.
And there is no indication that the Kings would even be able to field a team - as they used mostly junior players in the qualifying competition and none of the SA Rugby contracted Super Rugy players have hung around.
A large number moved to clubs abroad and the rest were scooped up by local franchises.
To rush a group of untrained club players and juniors into a competition of this magnitude will result in more embarrassment.
The drama (or is that the circus show?) does not end there.
rugby365 has also been told that Tony Mckeever, the maverick former Southern Spears (the equally disfunctional forerunner of the Southern Kings) Chief Executive Officer, is back on the scene.
According to reports Mckeever claims he has the backing of Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Danny Jordaan in his bid to take over the Kings from SA Rugby.
However, not everybody has forgotten the unmitigated disaster his previous attempt was at running the franchise and he can expect some stern resistance.
* Meanwhile it is reported that angry clubs will launch another bid to topple EP Rugby Union President Cheeky Watson at a SA Rugby-convened general meeting in Port Elizabeth next Monday.
According to the Port Elizabeth-based Herald newspaper SA Rugby is convening the meeting, where all the agenda items from the adjourned meeting of May 31 will be discussed.
Previous bids to topple Watson and his executive were not successful because of technicalities.
The Kings are now under SA Rugby administration and the clubs will be addressed by the SARU appointed administrator Monde Tabata.
It is expected that Tabata will report to clubs on the latest developments at Monday's meeting.
According to the Herald, Tabata had recommended that plans for the Currie Cup be abandoned, because EP were not in a position to field a team.
By Jan de Koning, additional reporting by the Herald