SA Rugby sold a 74 percent shareholding in SA Super Rugby (Pty) Ltd, the Isuzu Southern Kings’ holding company, to a company called The Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World (Pty) Ltd (GRC). The Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) has acquired the balance of 26 percent of the shares.

The deal was recently completed following the conclusion of agreement on the commercial terms.

SA Rugby had taken control of the Isuzu Southern Kings in November 2015 when the EPRU, to whom the operation of the franchise had been granted, ran into financial trouble.

“We are delighted to have concluded the sale,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.

“The GRC are made up of committed local individuals who have the growth of rugby and the success of the Isuzu Southern Kings at heart. They are intimately involved in the commercial activities of the Eastern Cape and understand the potential of the region.

“This is a very significant and important development for the Isuzu Southern Kings. We look forward to GRC and the local community giving the Isuzu Southern Kings the ammunition to grow into the rugby force we know they can be.”

The owners of GRC are Eastern Cape businesspeople Loyiso Dotwana, Gary Markson, Rory Stear, Kenny Govender and Vuyo Zitumane.

Mr Dotwana, head of the consortium, 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 Isuzu 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 Isuzu Southern Kings team would mean to this region. We are focused and determined to deliver that success.”

Mr Andre Rademan, President of the EPRU, said that the fact that the EPRU was a shareholder would ensure continuity for rugby in the region.

“It is essential that the continuum between school, club, provincial and franchise rugby remains open and this new arrangement assures that,” he said.

“It has been a challenging three years for the rugby in the Eastern Cape but the establishment of a new EPRU board and now the local acquisition of the Isuzu Southern Kings franchise means that we can look to the future with real excitement and anticipation.”