beginning of an error

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.

Lions Back

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.

Kings Exit

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.

vapor in the wind

Professional sport. The life of a chosen few. A glorified manor that a selected need not magazine pictures, blogs or someone’s mother to get the idea, but live to tell many tales of its existence. That God-given, though not always driven, rare talent that cannot be confused with ‘luck’ nor could it be pinned down to just ‘hard-work’.

Often a sanctuary of success, a dream come true stature. The real ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise, the nature of rock and roll. The life. The tragedy. The tragedy of a flower quickly fading; here today and gone tomorrow.

Only just over a year Tiger Woods was the number golfer. 2008 Olympics Michael Phelps was the pot-head hailed king of the pool. The fall off Zinedine zidane. Troublesome Joost van der Westhuizen, Herschelle Gibbs…and and…


Monday July 4th, while many Americans caused havoc (much like we South Africans do on December 31st) ATP tennis rankings were released and confirmed Novak Djokovic as the new world number one. After the Serb’s 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon finale.

No surprise (of course), considering he was already guaranteed to move ahead of the Spaniard following his semi-final defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

What this means though is that Nadal’s 56-week rein since he took over from Roger Federer in June last year is over and now the 2008 and 2010 champ is merely a forgettable number two.

Yeah sure he vows to hit back and probably will, but that’s a story for another day. What is quite unnerving is Serena Williams’ new standings. From world number one to 175th – her lowest position since 1997 – in just under two years. Yeah sure injury and illness kept her off court for a year, but slumping 150 places is something else altogether.

Once again I find myself at the receiving end of all that can be ‘fun-cruelty’ because of my affiliations. I don’t need to tell you that my rugby team of choice is the Vodacom Blue Bulls and their premature exit in this year’s Super Rugby meant one thing; find a deep hole and crawl into it – FAST.

I will fully admit, though I had hoped, I didn’t see the Bulls retaining the title this year. I sat at a cold Coca-Cola Park stadium to witness their kick-off to the Super Rugby campaign. A 24-5 lead into the second-half had me and many in Bulls replicas fooled into a coy that perhaps the new format will take nothing away from the two-year champions.

The 24-20 victory aroused many jitters… with that said the format, undesirable to many (count me in) did in fact save the Pretoria giants from one of the most atrocious season destined.

And a (less) memorable end for the brave Crusaders’ 100,000km journey. Receiving the raw end of the stick from kick-off, its a wonder this side made it this far. Devastation of the worst kind at home could leave any team disoriented.

However, Todd Blackadder’s men took the entire season with stride that had many pinning them down as ‘the team’ of the season. Making the 2011 finale one of fairytales.

Only four years ago the men from Queensland were the ‘minnows’ of Super Rugby. Who can forget the 92-3 whipping in 2007 at the hands of the Bulls? Now there’s an irony – this Reds team taking the reins from that very same Pretoria outfit. And in the process wreck the Crusaders’ hopes of an eighth Super Rugby title, in a finish that is only predicted in a book of fairytales.

Sure the Quade Cooper versus Dan Carter contest is always a ticket seller. Carter‘s drops goal skills taking on the lethal tactical kicking of the fullback will be mouth-watering any day. Some blogger (whose name and page escapes me) summed it up nicely:

“The Crusaders looked knackered and played like it”.

Classy and rugby genius he remains, but the All Blacks pivot lost this battle, as Cooper, with a little help from the other Wallaby – Will Genia – closed the book with a much anticipated ‘happily ever after’.

Well done Reds. Take a bow Crusaders. Reaching the final under such conditions is commendable.

With so much more sport coming up in the next few months – the Currie Cup, Tri-nations, World Cup and the return of the soccer season, yeah I’ll even pay attention to the US Open – I am excited to see what this season will unfold for these men and women in tracksuits.

Currie Cup picks:
Game 1: Lions v Pumas: Lions by 10

Game 2: Western Province v Griquas: Western Province by 13

Game 3: Cheetahs v Leopards: Cheetahs by 9

Game 4: Sharks v Blue Bulls: Blue Bulls by 5

Whats yours ?