Southern Kings boss Cheeky Watson dismissed speculation that they will seek ‘legal recourse’ or head back to the boardroom after losing their Super Rugby status.
Watson, who on Monday congratulated the Lions on reclaiming their Super Rugby status, said they accepted the outcome of the two-match promotion-relegation series – which the Lions won 44-42 on aggregate, despite losing 18-23 to the Kings in Johannesburg at the weekend.
Watson dismissed media speculation that the Kings would be seeking legal recourse.
“This is not true,” Watson said in a statement.
“When we entered into the Super Rugby tournament we knew what the rules of the game were and we accepted that should we be at the bottom of the log, we would be playing promotion relegation for inclusion next year.
“We accept the outcome of the play-offs.”
In connection with speculation over player movements, Watson said this was still at a sensitive stage – as contracts were still being looked at and more information would be released in due course.
It has been reported that up to 10 Kings players are likely to depart Port Elizabeth.
Fullback SP Marais became the first to formally reveal his intentions, with the Sharks listing him among their list of players for the upcoming Currie Cup season.
Last week it was reported that four players – Springboks Waylon Murray and Bandise Maku, along with stars Jacques Engelbrecht and David Bulbring – will join the Bulls.
Other players reportedly on the departure list are tighthead prop Kevin Buys (Brive in France) and loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira (the Lions).
Impressive scrumhalf Shaun Venter, who was on loan from the Pumas, will return to Nelspruit.
Other Kings on the wishlist of some unions include young flyer Sergeal Peterson and flyhalf Dimitri Catrakilis.
Catrakilis has offers from Western Province and the Blue Bulls.
There is also uncertainty over the future of the Kings’ international stars.
Utility forward Daniel Adongo has already departed the Kings and joined up with the NFL Gridiron franchise the Indiana Colts.
Argentinian scrumhalf Nicholas Vergallo and New Zealand utility back Hadleigh Parkes also appear to be heading for the exit door.
The Kings have also lost their director of rugby Allan Solomons to Edinburgh, while defence coach Omar Mouneimne will join Solomons in Edinburgh. This followed after they lost assistant coach Brad Moore, who returned home to New Zealand.
“All is not lost,” Watson said.
“A good foundation has been created through the Super Rugby experience and the sleeping giant which was EP rugby has been awakened.
“We will continue to build on those foundations and ensure that rugby in the region continues to grow from strength to strength.”
Watson also took the opportunity to congratulate the Lions on reclaiming Super Rugby status.
“On behalf of the Southern Kings, I would like to congratulate the Lions on their inclusion in next year’s Super Rugby tournament following the two promotion-relegation games,” Watson said.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Southern Kings players and management for the fantastic work done during their debut season. What the Southern Kings have accomplished in the limited time available to them has exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
Watson said what had been most notable was the level of support from followers across the local, national and international community who came out in their numbers to support the fledgling franchise and players. He added that the players had played with courage, character and commitment.
“Most importantly, we would like to thank all our loyal supporters who have shown that there is a hunger for top quality rugby in the Eastern Cape – and we assure you that we will do everything in our power to ensure that high calibre rugby continues to be played in the region at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“We would also like to thank the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and the Eastern Cape provincial government for their on-going support, as well as all our loyal sponsors who made this exciting season possible.”
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