By: George Byron
Buoyant head coach Deon Davids has called on rugby fans to come out in big numbers to support the Southern Kings when they face the Sharks in their next home game on May 13.
After beating the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels in their previous games, the Kings are looking to make it a hat-trick of Super Rugby wins when they play the Durban outfit.
There were only 4 434 fans at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium when the Kings thrashed the Rebels 44-3 on Saturday.
The winning streak has galvanised Kings supporters, who are running a campaign on social media, #FILLTHESTADIUM , before the Sharks showdown
“Sometimes, I have stood on the field and wondered when we are going to have people on the seats,” Davids said.
“The support for the Rebels game was tremendous and it was a start.
“The players know if they put in these performances and keep doing this stuff we will get the people back.
“Hopefully, against the Sharks they will come out in their numbers to support us and help us pull that one through.”
It is known that Kings chief operating officer Charl Crous has also been working tirelessly to keep the Port Elizabeth franchise in Super Rugby next year and to bring crowds to the stadium.
Davids’s call for bigger crowds has been echoed by EP Rugby Union president Andre Rademan and former Springbok coach and TV analyst Nick Mallett.
Rademan said: “As the team grow in confidence, and with people rallying behind them, their confidence will continue to grow.
“That is why I am asking the public to please start filling the stands.”
Mallett said: “If the people of Port Elizabeth have seen the heart and the courage with which the Kings have played [they should] go and support them. Support a team that is giving its everything on the field.” Davids said the win over the Melbourne Rebels was a huge step forward for the resurgent Kings in their bid to stay in Super Rugby next year.
“That win was a huge step in showing this franchise is important going forward,” he said.
“If we get the opportunity over a period of time, we will be able to keep players together and there will be more players like Yaw Penxe, Makazole Mapimpi and Andisa Ntsila coming to play at this level.” South Africa must shed two of their franchises as Super Rugby reduces from 18 sides to 15 next season and the Kings and Cheetahs are expected to be the victims.
Australia have to chop either the Rebels or the Perth-based Western Force.
“Well done to the guys for taking charge and not letting setbacks get to them, but showing they can be accountable, responsible individuals who are very serious about their future. That is a good sign,” Davids said.
“The players are starting to understand what we want and each other.
“We did not have many changes for the Rebels game and we are trying to build some combinations.”
After the Sharks game, the Kings’ remaining home games are against the Brumbies (May 20) and Cheetahs (July 14).
Kings skipper Lionel Cronje said his team were not paying too much attention to the possibility of being axed from Super Rugby next year.
“Our minds were focused on the pitch,” Cronje said.
“This was a phenomenal effort by the guys against the Rebels. We are playing for each other and it shows on the scoreboard.”
The Kings scored six scintillating tries against the Rebels and this took their try tally for the season to 33 from nine matches.
Cronje was concussed in the weekend’s match and will be undergoing the compulsory return-to-play protocol before the Sharks game.