SARU will 'underwrite' the Kings again
REACTION: The Southern Kings may not have a complete squad or any sponsors yet, but they will have the financial backing to compete in the newly launched Pro14.
The Cheetahs and Kings will break the mould for world rugby, when they become the first Southern Hemisphere teams to compete in a Northern Hemisphere league.
The two former Super Rugby teams will kick off in the tournament next month with 12 clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.
The Cheetahs open their account against Irish giants Ulster on Friday, September 1.
The Kings enter the fray a day later, when they take on the defending champion Scarlets.
Jurie Roux, Chief Executive Officer of the South African Rugby Union, confirmed they will 'underwrite' the Kings just like they did in Super Rugby when the franchise's parent body (EP Rugby [Pty] Ltd) was declared bankrupt.
Roux, answering a question by at the South African launch of the tournament, said the Kings are "in a lot better shape" than they were, with the support of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.
He added that SARU will constitute a new Kings board and hope they will get sponsors.
"They will be on the pitch and they will be playing," Roux said, adding: "We need to focus on them competing.
"SARU underwrites all their unions participating in international competitions."
Roux called it a "momentous day" – as significant as the launch of the Super 12 tournament, 21 years ago.
"Life is about diversity, life is about options and life is about opportunities," he said, "It creates more diversity and makes sense in terms of time-zones.
"This is the first cross-hemisphere competition; the first time we will have played summer rugby in South Africa and the first experiment in aligning a season in the south with that of the north.
"Our eyes are on the bigger picture, which is new horizons and new opportunities for South Africa."
Pro14 Chairman Gerald Davies also described it as a very significant moment - with the cross-border competition having crossed hemispheres.
"There are sceptics out there, when something new and revolutionary comes about," the Welsh legend said.
He called it a revolutionary competition.
"There is a culturally important factor, in that we are coming together - north and south."
By Jan de Koning