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13 Jan 2009 13:31
A new rugby franchise for the South-Eastern Cape will be launched in June with the goal of eventually appearing in Super Rugby, SA Rugby announced on Tuesday.
The new initiative is a joint venture between the Eastern Province and Border Rugby Unions in consultation and with the backing of the South African Rugby Union (Saru). The process to establish the franchise was decided at a meeting in Johannesburg on Monday night.
The new franchise will be launched in Port Elizabeth on June 16/17 to coincide with the presence of the British & Irish Lions in the city for a match against a Coastal XV.
The date of the match against the Lions is expected to be confirmed shortly.
The meeting was chaired by Mark Alexander, the deputy president of Saru, and attended by Cheeky Watson, the president of Eastern Province rugby, Saru president Oregan Hoskins, Saru vice-president Rautie Rautenbach and Andy Marinos, acting managing director of SA Rugby.
“It was an extremely positive meeting and there was broad agreement on the way forward,” said Alexander.
“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.”
Alexander said that the name of the team would be revealed in due course but confirmed that the franchise would not be known as the Southern Spears. He also said that it was premature to discuss possible appointments before planning and preparation had properly begun.
“There is a desperate hunger for top-flight rugby in the South Eastern Cape and this is the first step to satisfying it,” said Watson. “There is much work to be done but the region has the resources and the capacity to deliver.”—Sapa
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