The Kings have backed down in their stand-off with SARU regarding the use of foreign players, while SANZAR CEO Greg Peters poked his nose where it does not belong.
Following a little caution from SARU, Cheeky Watson has confirmed that the Kings have recalled Argentinean loose forward Tomas Leonardi and French hooker Virgile Lacombe from the touring squad.
Hooker Edgar Marutlulle and loose forward Devin Oosthuizen will replace them, the latter on the same flight as Watson from Port Elizabeth, and the former joining the touring trio in Johannesburg.
Argentinean Nicolas Vergallo (scrumhalf) and New Zealand utility back Hadleigh Parkes remain with the team as the two foreign players.
Watson remains adamant that the two Argentinean players – Leonardi and Vergallo – would not be regarded as foreign players given that they were here to play Vodacom Cup rugby for the Pampas, but how he got onto that train of thought remains a mystery. The Grunt is yet to hear back on this from SARU.
“It is immaterial if we are disgruntled or upset, we abide by SARU’s decision and will continue our fight between the white lines on the pitch,” said Watson to www.rugby365.com when asked by said site if there was any bad blood between the two parties.
Meanwhile … SANZAR CEO Greg Peters poked his nose into the matter when speaking to the Sharksworld website, saying that SARU does not have the jurisdiction to suspend the Kings or to dock the team points
Only SANZAR is empowered to act against any team that will in any way affect competition participation or log standings.
But when the Kings played three foreign players they were not acting against SANZAR’s rules, they were breaking a local regulation, and not once has SARU suggested they would dock log points from the Kings.
SARU’s most likely recourse would be to impose a financial penalty on the Kings (up to R1 million), but it is they who decides which 5 teams represent South Africa in Super Rugby. And were they to feel aggrieved enough, replacing the Kings with another franchise such as the Lions would in all probability be within their right!