The Southern & Eastern Cape were awarded a Super 14 rugby franchise on June 8 2005 with a unanimous SA Rugby Union Presidents Council resolution, which allowed the South Eastern Cape franchise to prepare for the Super 14 by playing Currie Cup rugby in 2006 and be in the Super 14 in 2007 and 2008.
SA Rugby was to financially support the franchise in 2006 only. Peter de Villiers was appointed head coach in August 2005 and the Southern Spears were created and launched on November 30 2005. They played 1 provincial side (Eastern Province), 3 Super 14 warm-up games for the benefit of the Lions, Cheetahs & Stormers, with a pick-up side and 5 internationals (3 X Kenya and 2 X Namibia) to capacity stadiums before SA Rugby withdrew their support in March 2006.
On November 28 2008, a new president of Eastern Province rugby was elected, Cheeky Watson, who has commitments from national and regional government, plus the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, SA Rugby and the broadcasters to support the launch and roll-out of a new franchise. The new franchise is to be called Southern Kings, with an invitational side to play the British & Irish Lions in Mandela Bay at the new 50 000-seat stadium on June 16 this year, Youth Day. The junior partner to the Eastern Province Rugby Union in this Super Rugby franchise will be Border Rugby and SWD.
What the concept of the Kings does:
It symbolises a call to all to “come out” and together support not just a rugby team, but an ethnic group and nation, a culture and territory. It represents the restoration of a rugby identity in the Eastern Cape with followers around the country.
It gestures the reinvigoration of a people — the power of the past that can forge the strength of a future.
• The four spears represent the four kings of the area and the willingness to take up the challenge on the sports field.
• The oval symbolises the shield and rugby ball.
• The corporate identity graphic icons also carry a link to the elephant tusks.
• The “Kings” typestyle is contemporary, strong and legible
The Southern Kings will aim to attract support not only from within the Eastern Cape region but across the country as well. A number of rugby players and followers currently residing in other provinces and around the world have their roots in the Eastern Cape.
Rugby enthusiasts: people who have played rugby or have attended a game — 2 009 000 adults
Interested bystanders: people who are interested in rugby but haven’t played or been to a game — 4 361 000 adults
The attitudes differ in some respects between the two markets and might require some changes in message. A major objective would be to convert bystanders to enthusiasts.
1. Draw off and highlight the heritage, ethnicity and fierce warrior-like courage of the four indigenous traditional kings of the Eastern Cape.
2. Play international Super Rugby games at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
3. Retain and attract the elite Eastern Cape rugby players from U13 to U21, those playing around the country and in international tournaments, in the Eastern Cape.
4. Offer skills and condition clinics to schools and universities in the Eastern Cape.
5. Instil a regional pride and passion in the Super Rugby team.