Mandela Bay Saints mooted by new franchise owners

Kings must ditch name - Tony McKeever

Tony McKeever wants the new Isuzu Southern Kings owners to rename their PRO14 side
Tony McKeever wants the new Isuzu Southern Kings owners to rename their PRO14 side
Image: Supplied

If the new owners of the Isuzu Southern Kings are serious about stamping their  identity on the franchise they must waste no time in renaming the ailing side, rugby entrepreneur Tony McKeever said.

 The former chief executive of the Southern Spears franchise, was talking ahead of a presentation by the owners on “The Way Forward” for the Southern Kings.

Until now the owners have been tight-lipped on what changes fans can expect.

Changing the name will herald a commitment to change and discard all the baggage that has kept the Kings in the weeds,” McKeever said.

“Extensive research among rugby clubs and constituencies have shown it should be named the Mandela Bay Saints.

“It is a name that has been tested to reflect the courage character and commitment of the team echoing Mandela Bay and the Mandela Bay Stadium .”

The business consortium, have acquired a 74 per cent stake in the Kings,  are expected to give detailed information on their plans at a launch at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday.

McKeever, who stood for president of the EP Rugby Union two years ago, has followed the fortunes of the franchise closely over the past decade. 

Last year he brought the billionaire owner of Stade Francais, Dr Hans-Peter Wild,  to Port Elizabeth to meet EP Rugby President Andre Rademan and his executive.

McKeever has also urged the owners to sign top players to put the franchise back on their feet.

“The owners will need  R50m a year for four years so players and personnel can be contracted for one year (with performance clauses) with an option to renew for a further year or two, to create continuity.

“These contracts need to mirror the duration and participation of the franchise in the PRO14. The franchise needs to receive the broadcast revenues for this, not SA Rugby.

“This is so the schools, junior teams, university teams and senior players and coaches, can all be developed with a coherent and ongoing rugby development programme.

“Tt is a high standard that has to be attained from day one, because  there can be no learning on the job as every single week there are over one hundred games played. These cannot be put on hold.

“Otherwise, the franchise will continue to remain chopped liver at the bottom of the table.

“This haemorrhaging of games, players, coaches and money has to stop immediately. If they don’t know this already it will be a fierce unforgiving baptism of fire.”

SA rugby boss Jurie Roux wants the new owners to give the franchise the ammunition they need  to grow into a force in the PRO14.

Ahead of the launch the consortium were keeping their cards close to their chests when pressed about their plans for the ailing PRO14 franchise.

“We will be making various announcements, but only after contracts have been signed,” said consortium spokesman Rory Stear.

The Kings have struggled to make an impact in the PRO14 this season, winning only two of their 17 games.

Consortium head Loyiso Dotwana, said: “We have followed a rigorous process to take control of the franchise,  but we have been single minded throughout – that bringing ownership of the Southern Kings into local hands will be good for the team and good for the region.

“We are rugby people who understand the Eastern Cape, the passion of the people for rugby and just how much a successful Kings team would mean to this region. We are focused and determined to deliver that success.”