{
    "title": "PRO14 to hit George",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/2\/Johan-van-Graan-looks-180214G300.JPG",
    "body": "<p>\r\nThe Southern Cape city of George will host it\u2019s first GuinnessPRO14 fixture when the Southern Kings host Munster at Outeniqua Park on 7 April.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nThe Irish province, beaten finalists last year, are now coached by former Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan and should be a popular opponent for the first match between a South African franchise and a northern hemisphere team to be hosted at the Garden Route venue. It is not quite correct to state that it will be the first international franchise fixture to be played at the stadium as the Stormers have played Super 12 fixtures there in the past.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nWhat is correct to state though is that George boasts a good record of hosting major rugby events. Outeniqua Park was a popular venue for the South African leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series before the annual Sevens tournament just became too big and had to be moved to first Port Elizabeth and later Cape Town.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nGeorge also hosted a match against a South African country provinces side coached by Heyneke Meyer for Warren Gatland\u2019s Ireland way back in 1998 when Meyer was just a young coach making his way with South Western Districts.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\u201cThis is an extremely exciting development for us and forms part of the Southern Kings\u2019 mission to bring international rugby to all our people,\u201d said Charl Crous, Chief Operating Officer of Southern Kings.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\u201cSouth Western Districts has always been a key component of our fanchise and has not only provided us with passionate support but also a number of great players, as well as our current head coach Deon Davids,\u201d he added.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nSWD have also been paired with the Stormers in the past but a pairing with the Kings does make better sense from a logistical point of view as Port Elizabeth and George are much closer to each other than Cape Town and George are.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<\/p><p>\r\n<strong>PART OF A WIDER INITIATIVE<\/strong><\/p><p>\r\n<p>\r\n\r\nThe move is part of a wider initiative to familiarise the broader rugby public with the PRO14 brand. This is the first season of South African involvement in the competition, which also features the Cheetahs and the best Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian teams. While the Kings have struggled in the PRO14 because they lost too many players during the period there was uncertainty over their future, the Cheetahs have only lost six games and are challenging for a place in the play-offs. Both South African franchises are taking on the far view that they will benefit hugely from being in the fast growing and increasingly more popular competition once they have found their feet and settled.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nIn the long run, it could have the benefit of taking top rugby to more of the South African population, as is happening with the decision for the Kings to host a game in George.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\u201cHaving the Kings play PRO14 rugby in George will not only be a huge boost for the city but also for the sport of rugby in the area,\u201d said Hennie Baartman, president of SWD Rugby.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\u201cIt will inspire our young players to see icons of the game from up close and I have no doubt that our people will embrace the occasion.\u201d<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nWhile the Kings have generally been comfortably outplayed by their opponents while on tour, they have been far more competitive at home and have pushed some strong sides close at both Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZekele earlier in the season. With this being the first big game they play in George, the Munster fixture is sure to be focused on as a special one by the Kings and fans should be witness to an entertaining game in a stadium that always generates good atmosphere when it is full.<\/p>",
    "blurb": "The Southern Cape city of George will host it\u2019s first GuinnessPRO14 fixture when the Southern Kings host Munster at Outeniqua Park on 7 April.",
    "date": "2018-02-15T10:34:35",
    "author": "Gavin Rich",
    "credit": "supersport.com",
    "img_credit": "Johan van Graan \u00a9 Gallo Images",
    "category": "Pro14",
    "videos": []
}