PRO14 officials have issued an update regarding the involvement of South African teams in the five-nation tournament. Southern Kings, who along with the Cheetahs, joined the league in 2017 went into voluntary liquidation on Saturday.  

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The Kings shareholders, the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby, took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55million, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.

“The hard fact is that the Kings are insolvent, with significant debts and zero assets and it would have been reckless of the board to continue to trade,” said board chairman Andre Rademan.

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Now PRO14 have responded, issuing a statement on Wednesday that read: “On August 25, PRO14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness PRO14 fixtures until 2021. 

“PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action. 

“SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

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“Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”

Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president, has stated at the weekend that extending additional credit to the Kings, an insolvent entity, at a time when the rugby industry was required to make a saving of R1.2bn to stay afloat this year was not an option.

“The history of the Kings has been one of expectation and anticipation but unfortunately the parallel story of commercial failure couldn’t be wished away any longer,” he said. “The debts the organisation has accumulated over the years are considerable and in the current environment, the only certainty was that they would grow.

“The membership of SA Rugby has invested heavily in the Kings project but it is now time for a re-examination of what is the appropriate and sustainable pathway for rugby in the Eastern Province.”

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