The Southern Kings have insisted, via Twitter, that the new region will play in the 2013 Super Rugby competition.
According to Zelim Nel of the Weekend Argus, reliable sources at the Kings have confirmed that the Eastern Cape franchise will not take part in the 2013 Super Rugby competition as initially expected.
But the Kings responded on Sunday on Twitter denying the story and emphasising they won’t put a price on their non-participation.
Nel wrote Saru has paid the Kings R40 million and guaranteed their inclusion in 2016 when a new broadcast deal is brokered and the tournament is allowed to expand.
In January, it was confirmed that the Kings would participate in the 2013 Super Rugby competition. However, what Saru didn’t consider was that the current broadcast deal would limit the number of teams involved in the tournament (15) and the number of teams included in the South African conference (five).
Sanzar CEO Greg Peters told keo.co.za earlier this year that the tournament structure would not change until 2016. He said it was up to Saru to decide which five teams played in 2013.
This was always going to present a problem of fitting six franchises into five slots. With the two weakest teams (the Cheetahs and Lions) refusing to merge, it seemed likely that the last-placed team in 2012 would make way for the Kings in 2013.
However, the last-placed Lions have moved to fight their impending relegation over the last few months. The upshot is they will continue to play Super Rugby in 2013 and the current five South African franchises will compete in the tournament until 2016.
Apart from inclusion in the 2013 Super Rugby competition, the Kings will also be guaranteed a place in the Currie Cup Premier Division from 2013. They will reportedly use the R40 million to build up to 2016.
Sources at the Kings say there is some uncertainty as to what happens now with regards to the coaches and players that have already been brought to the franchise.
It is believed that they have not been that successful in luring many top players to the region. With their Super Rugby entry set to be further delayed, that struggle will surely continue.