The Southern Kings are set to receive a handy cash injection with news that Guma Tac intends to invest in South Africa’s newest Super Rugby franchise.
Guma Tac, which is jointly owned by Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichowitz, parted ways with the Lions but are still determined to make a telling contribution to rugby in this country. On Friday it was confirmed Guma Tac had been in discussions with the Kings.
‘We are committed to supporting the Kings rugby franchise, provided Saru places them in a position where they are able to compete in Super Rugby and it is not simply a one-year token participation,’ Ichikowitz said in a statement.
‘It is our belief that the Kings have waited long enough and are more than deserving to be given the opportunity to participate in Super Rugby.’
Guma Tac said it hoped to initiate a high performance structure at the Kings which focused on developing local talent from villages and townships in the Eastern Cape.
‘There are substantial amounts of players participating in Super Rugby that come from the Eastern Cape,’ Gumede said.
‘It is a shame that they have been forced to ply their trade elsewhere. This team needs the opportunity to demonstrate their potential. We intend to provide this for them.’
The Kings have already been guaranteed participation in the 2013 Super Rugby competition. Saru has however, delayed finalising the structure of next year’s tournament in terms of which of the existing five franchises will fall away. This decision will only be finalised on 7 July.
‘The delay to finalise 2013 and the pending Kings inclusion is creating frustration and putting the Kings in a situation where they may not have enough time to secure quality players and sponsors,’ Gumede said.
‘The value of an investment is in the quality of players attracted to the team. One cannot build an elite performance team with contract players entering retirement.
‘As equity partners, we hope to attract players who are playing on merit for other franchises to come back to their home team and are committed to supplementing them with South African and international marquee players. To achieve this, we would need to be able to offer long term contracts.
‘We urge Saru to be decisive on this matter so that we can make a long-term commitment.’