The exodus of Southern Kings players continues. There can be but a handful of our Super Rugby squad announced in January still plying their trade here in the Eastern Province. The latest? Cornell du Preez.
“Watson (Kings president) confirmed yesterday that Cornell du Preez had also been released from his contract with immediate effect, to sign with Edinburgh Rugby in Scotland.
Watson said he was excited that Du Preez had been given the opportunity to further his rugby career.
“There is no doubt that Cornell was one of the stalwarts during the Southern Kings campaign and he has continued to play superb rugby for us during the Currie Cup First Division. We wish him everything of the best.”
Watson said he knew Du Preez aspired to build towards playing for Scotland, and did not feel he would be given the opportunity to play for the Springboks, because of the depth of loose forwards, if he remained in South Africa.”
And in other news …The career ending decision by French referee Roman Poite to yellow card Bismark du Plessis in the first half for a perfectly legal tackle on Dan Carter has been rescinded from the record books by SANZAR. The resultant red card has been expunged from Bismark’s record but this does nothing to correct the result of the game which leaves the All Blacks in pole position for this years Rugby Championship.
THE future of big-time rugby in Port Elizabeth could be decided today when South African rugby bosses gather in Cape Town to discuss plans to enlarge the Currie Cup Premier Division from six to eight teams to accommodate the EP Kings and Pumas.
“I am sure that an enlarged Premier Division will be one of the main topics of discussion at the meeting,” Kings boss Cheeky Watson said.
Watson will travel to Cape Town with Kings chief executive Charl Crous for a meeting that is vital for the future success of the union, which campaigns in the second-tier First Division.
“It is also in the interests of the Lions that a decision is made because it could secure their position in Super Rugby for two years. It is vital that the Kings get top-flight rugby in the interests of the future of our young players,” Watson said.
Though rugby officials were tight-lipped yesterday, there has been speculation that the Kings could gain automatic promotion if they give up the right to play a Super Rugby promotion-relegation match against the team ending bottom of the South African conference. “We spoke at length about the issue of the Kings,” SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins said after a president’s council meeting last month.
“While we didn’t take any decisions, the discussion was about how to maintain the momentum of the Kings area now that they are out of Super Rugby,” Hoskins said.
After more than 250 000 fans flocked to watch Super Rugby at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this year, South African rugby will be anxious to satisfy the thirst for top-flight rugby in the region.
First Division matches have not proved to be big crowd-pullers, with many fans staying away from the stadium when the lower division matches are played.
If Premier Division matches were played in Port Elizabeth next season, huge crowds would flock back to the stadium to watch teams like the Sharks, Blue Bulls and Western Province.
“We have good players in the under-21 and under-19 ranks and it is vitally important that they get a chance to compete at the top level,” Watson said.
“By playing in the Premier Division, the Kings can also lay a foundation for re-entry into Super Rugby in 2016.”
There are a number of reasons why the Kings would be prepared to forego their shot at a Super Rugby promotion match.
It seems unlikely they will be able to muster a team strong enough to have a crack at winning a Super Rugby promotion duel.
On top of that, if the present Currie Cup Premier Division promotion rules are employed, the runaway table-topping First Division Pumas will play the team ending bottom of the higher division.
It would appear that we are to be back in the rugby wilderness for the next 2 years with Super Rugby guaranteed in 2016 (where have I heard that before?)