SA rugby's time to enter 21st century
- Ken Borland
- 07 Sep 2012 02:20 (South Africa)
Cricket South Africa have announced they intend to restructure their board to comprise five independent directors and five drawn from their Members Forum (the 11 provinces), which had me thinking the pressure is now firmly on the South African Rugby Union to do the same.
The whole shameful handling of the Southern Kings vs. Lions Super Rugby situation is a direct consequence of the archaic structure of South African rugby. The General Council, comprising representatives of the 14 provinces (CSA don’t include Northern Free State, Mpumalanga and South-Western districts), watches over the game in this country and they had the final say when it came to next year’s participation in the Sanzar tournament.
But many of these 14 gentlemen are tin-pot dictators and, almost without exception, they all concentrate on the individual interests of their province rather than the broader good of South African rugby. And then there is the anomaly that the smaller unions (those in the Currie Cup First Division) have the same power as Western Province or the Sharks and consequently have been known to sell their loyalty/vote to the highest bidder.
Lions President Kevin de Klerk inherited a union that was in an absolute mess and on the verge of bankruptcy. De Klerk, the former Springbok lock, is a thoroughly decent man but his battle to keep the Lions in Super Rugby was doomed to fail because he based it on good old amateur rugby principles of “fair play”, “what’s good for the game” and a handshake being a firm agreement.
His problem was that the other unions – even those that had pledged their support – were only ever going to look after themselves. De Klerk had hinted at the five Super Rugby unions banding together to save the Lions, but in the end the Gautengers have been banished.
They’re singing a sad old song at Ellis Park these days, but their own naivety and desperately poor results have been partly to blame. They now find themselves in the mud at the bottom of the pond but, just like the Natal Rugby Union did in the 1980s when they were relegated to the Currie Cup B Section. The Lions have to find a way to rise like a Lotus flower and restore their reputation as one of the finest teams in the country.
And what of the Kings’ chances in Super Rugby?
Cheeky Watson, the president of the Eastern Province Rugby Union (Epru), admits that there is still plenty to do.
“The important thing for us is to deliver a professional team that attracts attention, which we have succeeded in doing, and now it’s time to build the foundational structures: our academy, a working relationship with the (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan) university, and to put structures in place at the bottom.
“With 120 clubs spread all across the region and wonderful schools, this is a sustainable franchise. A lot of building still has to be done, but that cannot negate the fact that the foundation is unbelievably strong. It’s just to get the two to meet: the professional team and the foundational structures,” Watson told SA Sports Illustrated.
Much has been made of the Southern Kings’ transformation credentials, that they will provide a lot of black rugby players to the national cause.
But scratching beneath the surface, transformation does not seem to have been a roaring success in the Eastern Cape either.
Ithembelihle High School in New Brighton Township is probably the most successful black schoolboy rugby team in the country. But despite beating the likes of Framesby, Newton, Despatch, Muir College and Daniel Pienaar Technical High, and proving themselves to be competitive in the Grey High Easter Festival, Ithembelihle complain that Port Elizabeth’s white schools no longer want to play against them and that they have received precious little support from the Epru.
One look at their facilities seems to prove the point. Sports Illustrated reported they did not have a scrum machine and that their field resembled “a stony sandpit in summer, a lake in winter and a subtropical grassland in between”.
And why is this river of black talent not flowing into their provincial teams?
Last weekend, the EP Kings fielded just three Black Africans – Mpho Mbiyozo, Jongi Nokwe and Siyanda Grey – in their 22-man squad for the match against the Valke.
The Border Bulldogs were marginally better with four, while the combined figures for the two teams at U19 (8/44) and U21 (10/44) level suggest the Kings need to concentrate on transformation as much as anyone else.
Of course, the big five unions have relied on Eastern Cape talent, especially to boost their player-of-colour numbers, for many years. But they clearly figured out that if they turned their back on the Lions, another source of players, with more top-level experience, would suddenly become available.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been on a mini-tour of the country in recent days to check out where he should sign on the dotted line and the likes of Pat Cilliers, Franco van der Merwe, Jaco Taute, JC Janse van Rensburg and Derick Minnie will surely soon be on their way too.
And, in a competition where the local derbies have been notoriously tough, who is more likely to beat the Bulls – the Lions or the Southern Kings?
I know who my money would be on. DM
- Cricket: Not quite bowled over by India’s performance
- Cricket: SA vs India, 1st ODI preview
- ODI: Domingo weighing up pitches and spinners
- ODI: India arrives amid grumblings about BCCI dictates
- Cricket: SA needs to up batting to outclass Indian world champions
- Rugby: Mon Dieu, Springboks, well played!
- SA Open, final round: High drama on the greens
- Analysis: Where’s the good news for Cricket in SA?
- SA Open: Bad weather, but afternoon field dominates
- Springboks should expect a torrid French pushback in Paris
- SA Open: Still a quality field despite star withdrawals
- Rugby: Why Meyer picked Le Roux as starting fullback
- Rugby: Scotland’s brave fight wasn’t enough
- Rugby: Big, bruising forwards bound to keep Scotland on back foot
- Save the Wales: Boks harpoon the Red Dragons
- SA vs. Wales: Meyer picks intriguing squad to face the Red Dragons
- Jean de Villiers: nice guys make the best winners
- Ruthless Sharks, tame Newlands
- Currie Cup final: Epic clashes await
- Cricket, the game of bullies
- Currie Cup: WP and Sharks in the final
- Currie Cup preview: Final frontier for WP favourites
- Currie Cup: Back-to-back wins on the cards for WP?
- Currie Cup finals: The last, desperate fights
- Rugby Championship: Bitter pill for Bok fans
- Boks vs. All Blacks: It’s not just a magic ‘four-try formula’
- Rugby: Fresh out the Boks – the latest announcement
- All Blacks: They’ll do it their way
- Rugby: Protect the attacking side, says Meyer
- Rugby: A wallop for the Wallabies
- Springboks vs. Wallabies at Newlands: This is war
- Springboks vs. Wallabies preview: The pressure is on
- BCCI & CSA crisis: Up the creek, no visible paddle
- Rugby: Yellow card, black Saturday
- SA vs. All Blacks preview: Think outside the Boks
- Rugby: Boks on top, and settled there
- Rugby: Springboks hammer the Wallabies, hard
- Preview: Australia vs. Springboks
- Rugby: Not such a Zane-y choice
- Quo Vadis, SuperRugby?
- Rugby: Boks win, but without conviction
- Boks vs. Argentina: Bring it home at hostile Mendoza
- Rugby Championship: Springboks pummel Pumas
- Preview: Boks and Bafana have their work cut out at FNB Stadium
- Rugby Championship: Bok lineup will have its hands full against Argentina
- Rugby: Don’t cry for Argentina
- Rugby: Tightheads at a loose end
- SuperRugby: Chiefs are Champs
- SuperRugby: Relegation or promotion speaks volumes of Saru
- Soccer: The forgotten talents of the Vaal Professionals
- SuperRugby semi-finals: Sometimes off the game plan, but always on the game
- SuperRugby: Expect no mercy this weekend
- SA cricket: All hail Haroon Lorgat
- SuperRugby: What the heck happened to the Cheetahs?
- SuperRugby: Chilly weather could put Cheetahs on the back foot
- SuperRugby: Stormers - attitude in spades
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls should expect no patriotism from Stormers
- Throwing the Bull(s): Sharks fight hard, but come off second best
- SuperRugby: Sharks hoping for a miracle on Loftus
- SuperRugby: Bulls marching on
- SuperRugby: Confident Bulls to rest three more against Southern Kings
- CSA: No harm, no Faul
- Springboks smash Samoans: A promise of things to come?
- Rugby: A win against Samoa will reassure Bok fans
- Nedbank Golf Challenge gets bigger in players and stature
- Changes to Bok squad for physical game against Samoans
- Boks broke down at the breakdown
- Boks vs Scotland: Attitude is everything
- Springboks vs Scotland: Meyer hoping for repeat performance
- Only two changes to Bok squad for test against Scotland
- Boks vs. Italy wrap: Meyer’s defence tested in 5-try romp to victory
- Boks vs Italy preview: In search of factor X
- Springbok team: The proven plus a pinch of pizzazz
- Springbok squad: Safety-first Meyer shows flexibility, daring
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls hand Cheetahs a lesson in relentless precision
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls, Cheetahs clash will be up close and personal
- Springbok squad preview: A few headaches but no migraine for Meyer
- SuperRugby wrap: Steyn keeps the Bulls on top
- SuperRugby Preview: In the eye of a storm
- Titanic clashes: SuperRugby roundup
- Sharks: Once bitten – hopefully not twice shy
- Rugby Against Rape
- SuperRugby wrap: Inspired Kings reward loyal fans
- SuperRugby preview: Defence and patience key for the Cheetahs
- Rugby: Like Bulls in a china shop
- SuperRugby preview: Attacking boost for Sharks but danger lurks in Dunedin
- Rule-bound IRB tackled over Cyprus exclusion
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls hang on to top spot as Cheetahs miss a trick
- SuperRugby preview: Plumtree rings the changes
- Coming up through the rankings: Roelof vd Merwe
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls must take Kings clash by the horns
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls, Stormers get back on track
- SuperRugby: Crunch time for the Sharks
- Masters preview: Tiger, Tiger burning bright
- IPL: Enjoy it while it lasts
- Are our current cricketers our most talented ever?
- SuperRugby wrap: Sharks, Cheetahs, Kings against all odds
- SuperRugby preview: Hot and cold Stormers in the Cheetahs’ lair
- SuperRugby wrap: Cheetahs stretch winning run
- SuperRugby preview: Crunch time for resurgent Stormers
- SuperRugby wrap: Stormers blow away Jake’s Brumbies
- As easy as AB…de V
- SuperRugby preview: Crunch time for the Stormers
- SuperRugby wrap: Cheetahs keep SA flag flying
- SuperRugby preview: What Sharks, Pip!
- Tshwane Open: Dawie van der Walt wins by sticking to his guns
- SuperRugby wrap: Unattractive victories by Sharks and Bulls win few fans
- SuperRugby preview: Throw away the record books
- Tshwane Open preview: Youth and power vs. age and finesse
- SuperRugby wrap: Dream start for Southern Kings
- SuperRugby preview: Telling opening weekend for SA teams
- Here we go again, Cricket South Africa
- SuperRugby preview: Brief lull before the storm for SA franchises
- Demise of Tournament of Hope, a boost for Nedbank Golf Challenge
- Joburg Open, final round: Sterne well and truly back
- Joburg Open, first round: Sterne, German rookie make hay on West Course; Easton aces East Course
- Community Cup: A celebration of rugby’s grassroots
- Joburg Open: Schwartzel’s backyard under siege
- Pakistan turn heat on HotSpot
- CSA ‘stranded between Sascoc and the wishes of Mbalula and Judge Nicholson’
- Proteas vs. Pakistan: Tourists save face as Graeme Smith’s men lose focus
- Cricket: Happy Biff Day to you
- Farewell, Louis Luyt
- Positive Pakistan: Yes, we Kahn!
- O Captains! Our Captains!
- Pakistan vs. Proteas: Youth and inexperience vs. the world's best bowling attack
- The shambles of South Africa's wicket-keeping
- The Lions Challenge: It's our party and we'll play who we want to
- Cricket SA bosses: Nicholson who?
- Swimming in 2012: Chad and Cameron against all odds
- Sports year in review: The best of the rest
- Golf in 2012: When Irish eyes are smiling...
- Rugby 2013: The All Blacks will still be the team to beat...
- Golf: Everything under the Sun (City)
- Cool Kaymer makes it a German double
- Nedbank Golf Challenge: Pros disappoint, underdogs on top
- Nedbank Challenge: It's Africa's Major, make no mistake
- Nedbank Golf Challenge preview: Oosthuizen and Schwartzel edging closer to form
- Meyer's mojo growing stronger
- Boks play it by the book: Victory first, entertainment later
- Santa and siege of fortress Twickenham
- Stenson strikes it hot at SA Open
- Boks running more scared than ever
- Sweden sour: High stakes for Stenson in the SA Open
- Great Scots! The Boks have their work cut out
- South African Open: Bremner's flight to the top
- Shanks a bunch: the fairytale of Cyprus rugby
- Clash of the titans: The South African Open's two most determined golfers
- Rugby: Springboks snatch luck of the Irish
- Rugby: When Irish fly(halves) are smiling
- Back in action: crowd-pleasers in the latest Bok squad
- Golf: First matchplay championship in 25 years on Sunshine Tour
- Keep calm and 'Currie' on: WP wallops the Sharks
- Shark attack: Currie Cup preview
- Cricket SA: A whole new meaning to 'not above board'
- Currie Cup: Lions fans, Welcome to heartbreak hotel
- Rugby preview: Of conundrums and Currie Cups
- Ernie Els: Big, but not so easy - especially in SA
- In like Lions - but will they go out like lambs?
- Heyneke Meyer: Have a little faith, folks
- Springboks: Good, but not good enough
- Boks vs. All Blacks: the heat is on
- Clash of the Titans: Springboks vs. All Blacks at Soccer City
- It’s just part of the (lip) service
- Rugby: Tough calls for the Springboks
- Rugby: Meyer's major metamorphosis
- Rugby Championship: Springboks Hungry for Wallaby Meat
- Up and down days on the rugby circuit
- Rugby: Men Versus Boys
- The Gospel according to Heyneke Meyer: Springboks down but not out
- Rugby: Lady Luck vs. Morne Steyn
- Hey, Heyneke Meyer: Check your blind spot
- Overwork the players and they WILL drop the ball
- Crushed by the All Blacks: South Africa's national facepalm moment
- Rugby preview: The All Black fortress awaits Springboks
- Boks vs. All Blacks: We're in for hell...of a show.
- Rugby Championship: Boks with no spring
- Rugby Championship: Time to Bok up
- SA rugby's time to enter 21st century
- Nervy Boks prepare for must-win Wallabies test
- Springboks: Heyneke Meyer still unmoved