Johannesburg (AFP)

The South African Rugby Federation (SA Rugby) has taken control of the Port Elizabeth-based Pro14 franchise Southern Kings, which is facing serious financial difficulties, it said on Monday.

In addition to the financial assistance already planned, the national director of South African rugby, Rassie Erasmus, who coached the Sprinboks last year’s World Cup winner, will work with current Kings coach Robbie Kempson.

This is the second time in five years that SA Rugby has had to intervene to save this franchise from bankruptcy. In this specific case, it recovered 74% of the club's shares after a default by its majority shareholder, GRC (the Greatest Rugby Company), which was committed to saving him but did not honor his last financial commitments.

"We don't do it willingly," said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander in a statement, adding that "this is our last chance" (to save the Kings) while we wait "to find a way. to put the actions in other hands. "

The Pro14, a cocktail of clubs involved before in the Celtic League and former South African Super Rugby franchises, with the added bonus of the Zebras of Parma (Italy), hopes to restart on August 22 after a long interruption due to the pandemic of coronavirus. On the menu: a South African derby between the Kings and the Cheetahs, based in Bloemfontein.

The Kings are currently last in Conference B of Pro14 with a single victory, in November on the lawn of the Ospreys (Wales), and 12 defeats.

© 2020 AFP