SA Rugby confirm Eastern Cape franchise
January 13, 2009
SARU President Oregan Hoskins was present at the meeting to confirm the creation of a new rugby franchise in the Eastern Cape © Getty Images
SA Rugby have announced the formation of a new franchise based in South Africa's Eastern Cape, with the eventual aim of playing in the Super 14. The official launch of the franchise will take place in Port Elizabeth on 16/17 June, to coincide with the presence of the British and Irish Lions as they take on a Coastal XV.
The new franchise is a joint venture between the Eastern Cape and Border Rugby Unions and has the full backing of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
The formation of the new side was confirmed at a meeting between Mark Alexander, the deputy president of SARU, and attended by Cheeky Watson, the president of Eastern Province, SARU president Oregan Hoskins, SARU vice-president Rautie Rautenbach and Andy Marinos, acting managing director of SA Rugby, in Johannesburg on Monday night.
"It was an extremely positive meeting and there was broad agreement on the way forward," said Mr Alexander. "All parties see the proper placing and establishment of sound structures as a key priority to ensure the success of the South Eastern Cape franchise.
"All stakeholders will be consulted fully with a view to the franchise eventually being established in the Super Rugby structures. The meeting acknowledged that the establishment of the franchise is a process that needs careful preparation and a thorough business plan to ensure its future success."
Mr Alexander said that the team's name would be announced in due course but that they would not be known as the Southern Spears, the name of the Cape's previous ill-fated Super 14 bid.
"There is a desperate hunger for top-flight rugby in the South Eastern Cape and this is the first step to satisfying it," said Mr Watson. "There is much work to be done but the region has the resources and the capacity to deliver."