IRB Nations Cup 2010 champions Namibia join hosts Romania and Georgia, who have all qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, together with Americas Rugby Championship holders Argentina Jaguars plus Portugal and the Kings in a mouth-watering cross continental line-up.
“The inclusion of a Kings selection is another important step in our effort to create quality playing time for the Kings in view of their future participation in Vodacom Super Rugby,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU.
“The tournament will assist SARU to give much-needed international exposure to players and coaching staff in a region that is of huge strategic importance to South African rugby.
“We are grateful to the IRB for giving the Kings the opportunity to play in this very competitive tournament. SARU is fully committed to the Eastern Cape rugby cause and has shown its commitment through tangible investments and capacity building on all levels.”
The Kings represent South Africa in the Nations Cup following a two-year absence by a South African representative. No SA team has appeared since Emerging South Africa won back-to-back tournament titles in 2007 and 2008.
Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts form the Southern Kings with Port Elizabeth as its base.
The Kings’ participation in the tournament is part of SARU’s strategy to prepare the Eastern Cape-based franchise for participation in Vodacom Super Rugby.
As part of this initiative, the Kings have already played friendly matches against the Vodacom Bulls (January 29), Toyota Cheetahs (February 5) and the Lions (February 11). Matches against The Sharks and DHL Stormers are being lined up for later in the year. In addition, a match against English club Saracens is also planned for later in the season.
Port Elizabeth will also host the much-anticipated Tri-Nations match between the Springboks and All Blacks on 20 August in the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.