Stade Francais owner Hans-Peter Wild’s recent visit to PE and Cape Town might have been for golf, but could also indicate an intent to invest in the SA game.
Eastern Province Rugby Union president Andre Rademan, who accompanied Wild as they attended the Nelson Mandela Bay University’s sport centre before having lunch together, insists that talks of buying the Kings are premature.
And while Wild may well have been more focussed on his golf swing while taking on the testing Humewood layout, his lunch with Rademan and subsequent attendance at the PRO14 match between the Kings and Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will not have been a mere sight seeing mission.
Rademan told Netwerk24 that Wild flew to Port Elizabeth on his private plane, landing on Saturday morning. It is said that he then continued onto Cape Town.
Rademan would not confirm whether Wild was interested in buying the Kings franchise.
EP Rugby and the Kings are struggling financially following the liquidation of the union in 2016 which forced SA Rugby into taking control of the Kings during the 2017 Super Rugby tournament.
Having lost their Super Rugby status, might their addition to Europe’s PRO14 have attracted some foreign interest? More specifically, from the French, who have taken privatisation of their clubs to truly gargantuan proportions, hence the Galacticus that is Toulon.
Not only in France, though. A consortium of Irish businessmen are said to have made an offer of more than £3.5 millon to buy Premiership strugglers London Irish as part of a takeover to secure the club’s long-term future with a multi-million pound investment.
Losing all 12 of their PRO14 fixtures to date will not have helped Rademan’s cause as he seeks out new ways to generate revenue for the Kings, but privatisation seems the only way to take the game forward in South Africa, and it would be incredibly interesting to see it roll out first in PE.