About the Isuzu Southern Kings


southern kings match kit

The Southern Kings, known for sponsorship reasons as the Isuzu Southern Kings are a South African rugby union team. They played Super Rugby in 2013, 2016 and 2017, before joining the Pro14 competition prior to the 2017–18 season. The team is based at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and was formally announced at the opening of the stadium on the 16th of June 2009.

The Isuzu Southern Kings represents the Xhosa-dominant Eastern Cape province, and to pay homage to four Xhosa kingdoms with four spears in the logo.

The Isuzu Kings represent the heartlands of black rugby in South Africa – a tradition stretching back to the very establishment of the game in this country – and we bring a unique passion and flavour to the GuinnessPRO14 international tournament.


Southern Kings logo
Unsponsored logo used from 2009 to 2018


Formation and First Fixtures

In January 2009, SARU announced that a new franchise in the Eastern Cape Province would be launched in June of that year to coincide with the arrival of the British and Irish Lions in Port Elizabeth. The franchise was launched with the goal of a future place in Super Rugby. The newly formed team played their first ever match against the British and Irish Lions on 16 June 2009. 

In 2011 they played in the 2011 IRB Nations Cup, where they participated as the South African Kings. They won all three of their games, beating Georgia, Romania and Portugal on their way to winning the competition.

Super rugby logo


Super Rugby Inclusion

On 19 May 2009, Super Rugby governing body SANZAR announced that the existing Super 14 competition would be expanded to 15 teams from the 2011 season onwards. This was eventually reduced to just two bidders, the Melbourne Rebels and the Southern Kings. On 11 November 2009, SANZAR arbitrators awarded the 15th licence to the Melbourne Rebels, with geographical location and commercial value swaying the decision in the Australian franchise’s favour. The South African Rugby Union remained determined in their effort to bring Super Rugby to the Eastern Cape and confirmed on 27 January 2012 that the Kings would participate in the 2013 Super Rugby season.

The Kings made their Super Rugby debut on 23 February 2013, when they played against Australian side the Western Force at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The Kings won the game 22–10. They also participated in the 2016 and 2017 seasons of Super Rugby.

Guinness Pro 14 logo


Pro14 and Isuzu Sponsorship

On 1 August 2017, the European-based Pro12 announced that the competition would expand to 14 teams — being rebranded the Pro14 — and that the Cheetahs and Kings would be  joining the expanded tournament from the 2017–18 season onwards. The GUINNESS PRO14 Championship, which features top clubs from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy provided new and exciting adventures not only for the Isuzu Southern Kings, but for South African rugby in general. The ground-breaking inclusion of South African teams provided a pioneering opportunity in cross-hemisphere rugby. 

In August 2018, car manufacturer Isuzu Motors South Africa announced a deal to sponsor the Southern Kings for the next three seasons, resulting in the team officially being rebranded as the Isuzu Southern Kings. In addition, Isuzu partnered with a consortium of black business people to purchase equity in the Isuzu Southern Kings, making the team the first black-owned rugby franchise in South Africa.