SOUTHERN Kings rugby boss Cheeky Watson has been cautioned by SA Rugby not to breach the ruling that only two foreign players can be used in Super Rugby games.
Saru said yesterday it had established an investigation into a suspected breach of its Super Rugby participation agreement by the Southern Kings.
While Saru stipulates that teams can only use two foreigners, the Kings fielded Hadleigh Parkes (New Zealand) and Argentines Tomas Leonardi and Nicolas Vergallo against the Chiefs on Friday.
"Saru chief executive Jurie Roux contacted Cheeky Watson, the chairman of the Kings board, on Tuesday [yesterday] to advise him of the inquiry and also to caution him against any potential breaches," the rugby union said.
"The matter was discussed by an emergency teleconference of the executive council of Saru [exco] on Tuesday. The exco, in accordance with Saru disciplinary and judicial regulations, decided to appoint a judicial sub-committee to investigate the allegation.
"In the event of a breach being proved, there is a wide range of sanctions available, starting from a caution to a maximum fine of R1-million or a recommendation to the general council to suspend or expel the offending organisation."
Watson confirmed yesterday that he had been contacted telephonically by Saru leadership in connection with the issue of foreign players fielded during the game against the Chiefs.
"I have received a call from SA Rugby and while there is a difference of opinion relating to the definition of foreign players, it is my duty to submit to the guidance of the governing body of Saru," he said.
Elaborating on the definition of foreign players, Watson said: "In the process leading up to the signing of foreign players last year, we were led to believe – and even encouraged to sign – Argentine players who currently participate in the Vodacom Cup as Pampas would not be considered foreign players. In the same way Daniel Adongo, who is from Kenya, is not considered a foreign player.
"That being said, the sanctions which are being considered against the Southern Kings, as per the statement issued by Saru, have been clearly conveyed to me," he said.
Watson said in light of this, the decision had been made to submit to Saru's guidance on the matter.
"I am on record as having clearly stated that our treatment and entrance into Super Rugby, and the entire process to date, have disadvantaged us tremendously," he said.
"However, no one can dispute the fact that we are the first of the Super Rugby franchises added to the competition to have won our first game.
"We have also had a record of over 100000 spectators through the gates of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in our first three home games.
"We have proven in the last three games we have played, by the attendance and the support of the spectators, that we will fight and we will show our true colours as our emblem emblazons – the spear and the shield," he said.