Sport, like life should be simple. There are rules and we play by these rules, achieving outcomes based on our abilities, playing the game fair and square. See what I mean? Simple. But perhaps that is just my naive way of looking at things.
After all, where humans are involved, there is room (sometimes too much room at that) for human error and even more room when it comes to bending the rules to achieve an outcome which does not wholly reflect the true situation.
And this was never more so than the situation between Golden Lions and Southern Kings.
Admittedly, the Lions were dealt with a rather unfortunate card. And with tails between their legs, they walked a rather embarrassing journey to collect an elusive ‘fair card’. It was never going to be pretty.
All because someone at decision making level screwed up, royally. There’s no getting around that. If job appraisal depended on this situation alone, then SARU should be without an NB member, end of the year plan.
What we we’ve learned is one valuable thing, there’s no accountability from our leaders. Ones who promised the Eastern Cape body a three-year deal, then turned around and withdrew that card, like it was never in play, without considering the obvious implications.
Trending on my Twitter timeline, minutes after the hooter on Lions’ 23-18 loss to Kings, #EarnedNotBought, obviously Johannesburg based franchise fans know something we don’t.
It is not the obnoxious manner in which they created and easily played this tag that makes me shake my head, but rather the lack of grasp of what relegating the Kings really means for South Africa.
Sure, our rugby will survive a couple of seasons, however the global image is forever tarnished and that’s not even the most significant part. The greater tragedy is the implications for a country that has come this far in terms of any form of development.
SA’s most successful Super Rugby franchise – Blue Bulls – average a 29 000 in crowd attendance this whole season. Stormers the greatest carriers with 33 000 in numbers, while Sharks did not even get above 19 000. At 31 500, Australia’s Reds just nick the Kings troops by 500. A telling picture.
Sure the Lions have reclaimed their Super Rugby status, because they, well, earned it. Never mind losing at home to a team that came last in this year’s competition.
Considering the amount of players gone to greener pastures, this factor gives a clear indication of where they’ll end up, come 2014. Yet you have the loud roar of “yes we are better”. Of course you are, despite tying the series one piece a side.
Let’s face it; the Eastern Cape franchise was doomed from the start. They were brought into the highest level of rugby in our generation prematurely, an aspect fully accredited to that accountability factor I mentioned earlier.
This current plan is worse than putting a wound on a broken leg and being given marching orders (literally). Lions will not escape unscathed. Whether they’ll admit it or not, they are in the same position the Kings were in only months ago. Only they have ‘experience’ to worsen the matters. We wait…
A good mate of mine asked; “Kate, you support the Bulls, so why the fuss?”
The point is I’m an Eastern Cape child first, before a rugby fan. Choose to see that however you choose. I do hope you do not misunderstand though.
I came across a Tweet from someone who seems to get it; reason known to him, he deleted the post and for that alone I shan’t mention his name.
“This must be the saddest day in SA rugby history – I played during apartheid, this is nothing compared to that” (sic)
As a late 80s kid, I will not profess to have lived through the dark times of this country. So what is he trying to say?
I enlisted the help of someone who could possible phrase this better than any 140-characters-limited post:
“As disappointing as it is to have your provincial team knocked out of the Super Rugby competition, the slight positive side is knowing that the team demonstrated that the region does belong in this competition.”
“The Kings were seldom overwhelmed by the task of playing among the elite provincial unions in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, they played as if they had long been in those echelons. Hardly has a team made a better debut in Super Rugby than the Kings, not even the Western Force (2006) and the Rebels (2011) had better introductions to this level.”
“Yet here we are, and here are the Kings out of Super Rugby – a glimmer of hope of playing Super Rugby has been dimmed for an Eastern Cape child that is being nursed at an Eastern Cape rugby academy.”
“As a product of the EC, I weep for that child” – Sbu Mjikeliso Avusa Media Sport Journalist.
The Lions may have won the promotion-relegation 2013 fight, but the truth, in this situation, there’s no winner…
Just a beginning of long repercussions from a bad error.