BIG-TIME Currie Cup premier division rugby could be back in Port Elizabeth in 2014 if South African rugby bosses agree to alleged proposals to enlarge the division to accommodate the Kings.
Although rugby officials were tight-lipped on Thursday, there has been talk that the Kings might gain automatic promotion if they gave up their right to play a promotion-relegation match against the team ending bottom of the South African Super Rugby conference in 2014.
“If this is more than speculation then we will definitely consider it,” Kings rugby boss Cheeky Watson said.
“We need to look at it as anything that will keep top-class rugby here is a bonus for us.”
If the Kings are to be accommodated in the premier division, the South Africa Rugby bosses are likely to enlarge their top division from six to eight teams to make room for the Kings and Pumas.
If premier division matches were played, huge crowds would flock to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to watch such teams as the Sharks, Blue Bulls and Western Province.
If the Kings were granted a position in the top-flight Currie Cup, it would allow them time to build a team capable of holding its own in 2016 when they are expected to regain their place in an enlarged Super Rugby competition.
Rumours about the radical shake-up of South African rugby started to circulate after a President’s Council meeting of the South African Rugby Union in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The Kings might be willing to forgo their shot at Super Rugby promotion in 2014 in exchange for premier division status for a number of reasons.
It seems unlikely that they will be able to muster a team strong enough to have a crack at winning a promotion duel in 2014 and their current bid to gain promotion to the top-flight Currie Cup league is looking shaky.
At this stage, the rules state that the team ending top of the first division will have a crack at gaining promotion to the premier division.
After more than 250,000 fans flocked to watch Super Rugby at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2013, South African rugby will be anxious to satisfy the obvious thirst for top-flight rugby in the region. Watson has been working tirelessly since the Kings were relegated from Super Rugby on plans to keep the game alive in Port Elizabeth.