PRO Rugby and Doug Schoninger's plan to buy the the Southern Kings Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams has reportedly hit a snag. According to a article (it's well worth reading the article) by South African reporter George Bryon the South African Rugby Union have deferred to USA Rugby who apparently have given "a clear indication that they do not support this process." The SARU also says that only the liquidator can speak for Eastern Province.
It should be noted that this does not by any means indicate that the deal is dead. Schoninger could still purchase the team but it's telling that U.S.A. Rugby reportedly doesn't support the plan. You could see where they might be worried both in terms of stretching PRO Rugby's resources thin and potentially pulling in a number of South African players and limiting opportunities for Americans. Neither of those may be true but you can that perspective.
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U.S.A. Rugby CEO Dan Payne is in New York where he is going to meet with Schoninger and New York based United World Sports. The meetings were scheduled as part of a planned trip for Payne. That said, it comes at a crucial time for relations between U.S.A. Rugby and PRO Rugby. After an initial period of increased cooperation tensions have risen and this will be an opportunity to come together and discuss. However, if things don't go well then we could be in for an interesting few months.
In regards to PRO Rugby's plans to buy the Kings they are looking to increase the quality of the product in the league. In our conversations with the league they believe that the product needs to be better in order to attract more fans and attention to the league. They have also noted that foreign entities have treated PRO Rugby with more legitimacy than some in the American community.
How everything shakes out is going to be interesting to see. Regardless, PRO Rugby's successful first season showed that there is an appetite for professional rugby.