SA Rugby takes over control of rugby franchise Southern Kings

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Cork , Ireland - 14 February 2020; Chris Farrell of Munster is tackled by Thembelani Bholi and Jerry Sexton of Isuzu Southern Kings during the Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Munster and Isuzu Southern Kings at Irish Independent Park in Cork. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Chris Farrell of Munster is tackled by Thembelani Bholi and Jerry Sexton of Isuzu Southern Kings during a Guinness PRO14 Round 11 match between Munster and Isuzu Southern Kings at Irish Independent Park in Cork. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

South Africa’s rugby governing body took management control of the Southern Kings, repossessing a 74 percent shareholding in the franchise following the failure of the GRC to meet its contractual obligations.

The contractual obligations relate to the acquisition of the shareholding by the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World (GRC).

In a statement, SA Rugby said that South Africa’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, was working together with the Kings director of rugby and interim coach, Robbie Kempson, on immediate team needs.

Players, management, office staff, sponsors and provincial and metropolitan authorities had been advised of the latest developments, the statement added noting that all staff and players of the franchise had been retained.

In January last year, the GRC acquired the 74 percent shareholding of the Kings while the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU), to whom the operation of the franchise had been granted previously, retained 26 percent of the Kings.

“SA Rugby has appointed a finance team to work with franchise administrators on ensuring salary payments are made and business needs are addressed.”

SA Rugby President Mark Alexander said the union was very hesitant to take over control of the franchise.

“It is our last resort and we are keen to explore ways to return to the shareholding to another’s hands, in conjunction with the EPRU, the minority shareholder, who have given the required approval to the decision,” Alexander said.

Alexander added that a new board will be appointed to supervise the franchise’s affairs and ensure the team is prepared for the resumption of regular competition.

The PRO14 recently announced that the 2019/2020 Guinness PRO14 is expected to resume in late August after a five-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision ensures the Isuzu Southern Kings will participate in Guinness PRO14 and/or any other competitions that may be established within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown,” the statement added.

SA Rugby said that a decision on whether an administrator needed to be additionally appointed will made in the near future.

This is not the first time that SA Rugby has assumed control over the Kings. In November 2015, SA Rugby took control of the franchise when the EPRU ran into financial trouble.

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