SARU to blame for Limpopo?

2013-04-29 12:36
Limpopo Blue Bulls (Gallom Images)
The reentry of the old Far North into senior provincial rugby as the Limpopo Blue Bulls after 17 years out of provincial rugby was nothing short of spectacular - they finished last on the North Section log conceding 781 points in seven matches while scoring only 32.

*Vodacom Cup record:*

Lost to Golden Lions 161 - 3
Lost to Blue Bulls 110 - 0
Lost to Pumas 154 - 0
Lost to Valke 69 - 7
Lost to Griquas 124 - 5
Lost to Leopards XV 113 - 3
Lost to Griffons 50 - 14

This humiliating performance was always on the cards and the powers that be at SARU should have foreseen this. You simply cannot field an amateur side in a professional competition, especially not after being in the wilderness for 17 years. The Limpopo Blue Bulls finished fourth in the North Section of Amateur Provincial competition in 2011 but the divide between amateur and professional rugby is simply to wide to bridge.

To what purpose were they included in the Vodacom Cup? Supposedly to help foster rugby in South Africa’s far north but was this really the way to go?

In 2011 SARU obtained Lotto funding for rugby academies in Boland, Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts while funding for academies at the Griffons and Valke were refused. Why didn't they apply for funding for an academy in Limpopo?

It's not as if the Limpopo Province don't produce good rugby players, it has. John Smit, Victor Matfield, Gavin Johnson, Chilliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling, Deon Fourie, Arno Botha, Trevor Nyakane, Harold Voster, Hencus van Wyk and Joe Snyman all came from the region.

The region may not be as fertile as the Eastern Cape when it comes to producing top level players but surely it deserves more forethought than being dumped into the deep end.

All the blame cannot be laid at the door of SARU. The Limpopo Blue Bulls as well as the old Far North has always been a sub-union of the Blue Bulls (Northern Transvaal) and one must question what the Blue Bulls have done to develop rugby in the region, apart from drawing their best players to Pretoria.

At the moment there is no opportunity of a professional rugby career in the region. This is a region with no major cities, no rugby university and no major rugby schools, similar to Mpumalanga, SWD and the Northern Free State and there is no reason why it cannot be developed into and equally competitive union.

*What should be done?*

1. Set the union up as a full professional union, independent of the Blue Bulls. As part of the Bulls franchise they will then be entitled to their share of Super Rugby funding as well as assistance from SARU whereas they are currently dependent on handouts from the Blue Bulls.

2. Contract fringe players from the Blue Bulls and other unions and build a professional team. If the Pumas, SWD Eagles and Griffons, with no major cities, no universities and no major rugby schools, can attract players, albeit journeymen, so can Limpopo.

3. Set up a rugby academy to try and keep and attract young rugby players.

4. Once this is set up include them in the Currie Cup First Division and Vodacom Cup.

The Limpopo Province is currently the only province without a rugby union. The same arguments that have been used to get the Southern Kings into Super Rugby is valid to get Limpopo full union status.

Read more on:    mysport24

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