Saturday the 7th of April is set to be a red-letter day for rugby fans in the Southern Cape! That’s the date on which the city of George will, for the first time ever, play host to an international rugby franchise fixture, with the Southern Kings set to take on Irish outfit Munster in a GUINNESSPRO14 encounter.
“This is an extremely exciting development for us and forms part of the Southern Kings’ mission to bring international rugby to all our people. South Western Districts has always been a key component of our franchise and has not only provided us with passionate support but also a number of great players, as well as our Head Coach Deon Davids,” said Charl Crous, Chief Operating Officer of the Southern Kings.
The move is also part of a wider initiative to familiarize the broader rugby public with the GUINNESSPRO14 Championship brand. This is the first season of South African involvement in the competition, which also features the best Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian teams. Many local fans are still learning about the sides taking part and the many great internationals they have in their line-ups.
“The GUINNESSPRO14 is one of the fastest-growing brands in world rugby and the inclusion of the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs this season has made it possible for more fans to share in the excitement of international franchise rugby and the Kings are looking forward to “spreading this gospel” to the George public,” Crous added.
President of South Western Districts Rugby Hennie Baartman was equally enthusiastic in confirming the news. “Having the Kings play GUINNESSPRO14 rugby in George will not only be a huge boost for the city but also for the sport of rugby in the area. It will inspire our young players to see icons of the game from up close and I have no doubt that our people will embrace the occasion! The match will take place at Outeniqua Park and I encourage all fans to get their tickets early to avoid disappointment,” said Baartman
Baartman’s views were echoed by the Mayor of George, Councillor Melvin Naik. “The city of George is not only situated in a spectacularly beautiful part of the world but is also well established in hosting international sporting events. I am sure most rugby fans will recall the many years during which we hosted the SA leg of the HSBC IRB World Sevens Series and we see our partnership with the Southern Kings as an extension of that fine tradition. The Munster team and their fans are in for an absolute treat when they arrive,” he said.
The Kings’ strategy to take the GUINNESSPRO14 championship to different communities has already seen them host Ulster at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele earlier this season.