The Eastern Province (Southern) Kings are set to play Super rugby in 2013. However, the Eastern Cape franchise will not have to replace one of the five existing South African franchises as the Super 15 is set to become a Super 16 in three years’ time.
The Kings will then be the sixth South African franchise participating in the tournament. According to Sport24 has the proposal by South Africa at a SANZAR meeting had been accepted in principle by New Zealand and Australia.
The inclusion of the Kings, who will play in the South African conference, may mean that South African teams start their Super rugby campaigns two weeks earlier than usual. The news will be welcomed by the Kings. They have been fighting for recognition as a Super rugby team for a number of years, but have had their participation postponed every time. The Kings can now continue to enlarge their player base and negotiate with sponsors.
The latest development is also good news for the South African Rugby Union (SARU), who gave the government an undertaking that the Eastern Cape would be incorporated in the mainstream of rugby.
The Super 15 of 2011 starts with teams from the respective countries first participating in derbies against one another before taking on overseas opponents. The Bulls, Stormers, Lions, Cheetahs and Sharks will play each other home and away, while the same will happen in New Zealand.