Pro14 strugglers the Southern Kings have officially withdrawn from the 2020 edition to avoid incurring further debts, the South African franchise announced Tuesday.
The Port Elizabeth team will also not take part in the Currie Cup or any other domestic competition when rugby resumes after a shutdown since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kings were bottom of Conference B in the Pro14 -- a competition involving Irish, Italian, Scottish, South African and Welsh sides -- with just one win and 12 losses.
Apart from financial problems, the Kings would not have been able to fulfil fixtures with European teams as the South African borders have been closed to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Kings chairman Andre Rademan said "it would require additional loans or extra shareholder investments of 6.5 million rand ($385,000/325,000 euro)" to continue playing this year.
"This may not be a popular decision, but in the current circumstances it is the right decision," he said.
"It is obviously very disappointing news for the players and management who, like all rugby professionals, were desperate to resume playing,
"However, the board believed that further investment in 2020 with zero commercial return would be reckless in the extreme.
"We now have time to consider what is the best way forward for rugby in the Eastern Province (Cape) in this fluid and financially challenging environment."
The decision to pull out of the Pro14 and not compete in the Currie Cup is the latest of many blows to eastern Cape rugby.
In June, SA Rugby was forced to inherit a 74 percent stake in the Kings after the majority shareholder, GRC, failed to meet financial commitments.
"I cannot stress enough how reluctant we are to resume control of the Southern Kings," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said at the time.
SA Rugby incurred losses in 2016 and 2017 before making small profits in the last two years and had to slash 1.2 billion rand off the 2020 budget due to the coronavirus.
The Eastern Cape province is the hotbed of black rugby in South Africa with current Springboks captain Siya Kolisi born near Port Elizabeth, the regional hub.
Kings were coached this year on a caretaker basis by Robbie Kempton, a former South Africa prop forward.
The South African outfit joined the Pro14 in 2017 after being dumped from Super Rugby when the elite southern hemisphere competition was trimmed from 18 teams to 15.