Did Kings' new owners buy a dud?
OPINION: There will be much fanfare when the Southern Kings’ new owners are confirmed later this month.
However, the big question is: How quickly will the fizz go out of the bubbly?
The Port Elizabeth-based Herald newspaper revealed at the weekend that a deal has finally been struck that will see the Kings become South Africa’s first privately owned franchise.
According to the weekend reports the ZAR45-million buyout deal was concluded on December 12.
A business consortium will own 74 percent of the franchise and the Eastern Province Rugby Union will have a 26 percent share.
However, a formal announcement is not expected until after the South African Rugby Union reopens their offices next week.
No doubt it will be sold as a historic occasion and the revivifying of the struggling Eastern Cape outfit.
Perhaps circumspection should be the keyword.
Success will not come easy or expeditiously.
The pitfalls are many and the hill to climb is steep.
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If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that playing in the Pro14 is not a guarantee of retaining your best players or luring big names.
Even the Cheetahs found out, after reaching the play-offs in the 2017-18 season, that it only puts your stars in the transfer market’s spotlight.
The Kings, having had to rebuild their team after departing from Super Rugby in 2017, won just one match in their debut season.
They also claimed just three losing bonus points – for finishing within seven points of the opposition.
Now, in their second season and with only a handful of quality signings, they have won just one of their 11 matches and have four losing bonus points in the bag.
While producing some exciting rugby, they are competitive only occasionally.
This past weekend was a prime example.
The 0-38 loss to a second-string Edinburgh outfit at Murrayfield is not the kind of performance that will have inspired confidence in the new owners.
It is crystal clear that a lot of work awaits the consortium if they are to change the team’s fortunes from ‘also-rans’ to contenders.
If teams like the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions struggle to retain their star players, imagine how tough it will be to lure quality imports to Port Elizabeth.
As stated. Ask the Cheetahs what an Augean task it is.
There will be much approbation and laudatory comments at the launch.
Converting that into results on the field is another matter.
It is not malapropos to suggest the consortium may have bought a dud.
By Jan de Koning