Worcester boss Alan Solomons has described the financial demise of the Southern Kings, the South African franchise he guided into Super Rugby, as heartbreaking and he fears for the development of future rugby talent from that region.

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Solomons left the Kings in 2013 having fulfilled his Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) brief to steer the team into the Super Rugby competition and guide them through their debut year which saw them compete as one of five South African teams.

The current Worcester director has closely followed the progress of the Kings since then and they have lurched from one financial disaster to another in recent years, culminating last weekend in the current PRO14 team being put into voluntary liquidation. 

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Franchise shareholders – the EPRU and SA Rugby – took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55million (£2.5m) and with zero income expected for the remainder of 2020.

As a result, a raft of players are now looking for new clubs including Cameron Wright, Yaw Penxe, Jacques du Toit and Bobby de Wee. Worcester have been linked with the highly-rated de Wee and he would join an increasing number of South African players operating in Europe if he moves to England.

In a bid to try and halt the exodus, SA Rugby have confirmed they are in talks with the PRO14 competition as an alternative to their four teams who currently take part in Super Rugby. 

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With the Port Elizabeth-based set to be replaced, Solomons told RugbyPass: “I find the situation very upsetting. I coached the Kings against the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and we did really well in that game. 

“Robbie Kempson did a great job and we had a vibrant academy system going and I thought we were building something really good.

“It’s a fantastic area and it was so beneficial for South African rugby. Guys like Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am came from the Eastern Cape and for me it is heartbreaking that this has happened.

“From a South African perspective there are a lot of guys playing in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland and it is a concern. Rassie Erasmus (South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach) and the SARU have done the wise thing in saying that it doesn’t matter where in the world you play you will still be picked for your country. 

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“What is a real concern is the level of domestic competition in South Africa because that does get impacted and you need a blend of youth and experience and a lot of experienced players are leaving. That does concern me.

“At Worcester, we have 18 home-grown players in our squad which is absolutely brilliant and then you have other lads who add diversity like Francois Hougaard and many others.”

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