Coach joins Kings exodus
The Kings' newly appointed Super Rugby coach, Brent Janse van Rensburg, has resigned his post and is involved in talks with the Boland Rugby Union.
A source close to the BRU management told rugby365 that "discussions are at an advanced stage" in order to lure him to their Wellington headquarters.
He has become the second coach this year to head for the exit door in the wake of months of unpaid salaries at the Port Elizabeth-based Kings.
In July former All Black Carlos Spencer became the first member of the Kings squad – players and coaches – to leave, following the Eastern Province Rugby Union's inability to pay the salaries of their staff.
A host of players have since walked out on the Kings, ahead of their return to Super Rugby next year – including wing Luther Obi (to the Bulls), prop Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls), utility back Sylvian Mahuza (talking to the Bulls), Thembelani Bholi (talking to the Bulls), loose forward Tim Agaba (accepted a national Sevens contract), wing Siviwe Soyizwapi (accepted a national Sevens contract) and centre Tim Whitehead (free agent).
The Eastern Province Rugby Union confirmed on Wednesday that Janse van Rensburg had resigned from his post with the Kings.
Janse van Rensburg joined the EP Kings as their defence coach at the start of 2015 and was promoted to head coach of the squad which competed in the Currie Cup.
EPRU President Cheeky Watson thanked Janse van Rensburg for his contribution to the Kings operations during his time with the union.
"We appreciate Brent's commitment to the task assigned to him and the many hours he worked in preparing the team for various competitions this year," Watson said.
"We convey our best wishes to him and his family for the future."
Janse van Rensburg's departure is another crippling blow to the Kings – currently besieged by internal political struggles as a result of the financial crisis.
Despite Janse van Rensburg's departure, EPRU officials remain confident that the Southern Kings management team will soon be put in place to continue the preparations for Super Rugby.
The South African Rugby Union last month stepped in to take control of the Kings' Super Rugby franchise, but salaries for the Eastern Province Kings (Currie Cup) players and officials remain unpaid.
It is expected that the SARU coaching mobi-unit will assist and support the Kings' coaching group, or whatever remains of it.
Recruiting players and staff – despite recent announcements – is becoming an increasingly difficult task, less than three months out from their return to Super Rugby.
"We are in regular discussion with SARU, who have taken over the organisation of the franchise, on the way forward and there is much work being done behind the scenes to ensure the Southern Kings squad is properly prepared for its return to Super Rugby in February," Watson said.
"Along with SARU, we are confident of putting a strong management team in place to continue with the preparations for our re-entry into Super Rugby.
"In terms of specifics, any queries can be directed to SARU.
"We would like to thank the contracted players for their commitment to the Southern Kings cause and to SARU for their assistance in the preparations of the Southern Kings franchise."
The Kings will face the Sharks on February 27 in their opening match of the 2016 season.
The fall-out has also exploded on social media networks, where letters – attributed to unnamed players – talk of Hitler-like management structures, a "diabolical mess" and even a #cheekymustfall campaign.
EPRU President Cheeky Watson last week escaped a vote-of-no-confidence motion being brought against him when a special general meeting – planned for the weekend – was postponed at the 11th hour.
Jan de Koning
* Main picture provided by Olga Williams