SA Rugby on Thursday confirmed that the Eastern Province Kings will play in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup.
The confirmation follows the announcement of a R20m support package by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. An amount of R6m has already been budgeted for support towards the Union. The NMB Council is expected to ratify the increased allocation shortly.
The Municipality City Manager, Johann Mettler, has been tasked to ensure that a suitable vehicle is established to drive the support package in consultation with EP (through its SA Rugby administrator, Monde Tabata) and the EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd Liquidator.
Negotiations are also underway to procure suitable players, coaching staff and a CEO to manage the affairs of the entity.
EP’s scheduled fixture against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday has been postponed in consultation with the hosting union. EP will play their first game in round two on 13 August.
“We’ve worked very hard in the last few weeks to find a solution to the challenges in Eastern Province,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“We are very grateful that the Metro has pledged their support and we’re confident that they will be able to assist with procuring additional sponsors for the Kings.
“I’d like to thank Danny Jordaan and his team for their willingness to assist. I’d also like to pay special tribute to Griquas and their president, Jannie Louw, for their understanding these past few days. They were put in a very difficult position through no fault of their own but deserve great credit for their assistance.”
In a statement the Municipality said that their decision was based on the imperative of ensuring a viable anchor tenant for the NMB Stadium along with soccer team Chippa United.
They added: “It is critically important for rugby in the Eastern Cape that the Union remains competitive and competes in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup. It is equally important for economic development in the Metro area that top-flight games are played at the stadium thereby increasing economic activity not only for the North End area but for the entire Metro.
“This enhanced support package is intended to endure for 12 months only after which the Union must be in a position to sustain itself.”
The date of the postponed Griquas v Eastern Province Kings match will be announced in due course.