Sick of Kings-bashing
Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images)
I am really getting sick and tired with all the "King-bashing" that has become the latest trend in the comments section on News24.
Yes, it was probably a political decision, BUT it was a decision that was long overdue. The Eastern Cape deserves a Super Rugby franchise, because this is where black rugby players are being developed, but not only black rugby players! Now the whole of South Africa expects Cheeky Watson to develop a team of black players in just one season of Super Rugby! Do you want to tell me that is fair? You do not have to agree with Cheeky Watson's politics, but he is the one that fought tirelessly to get the Kings a Super Rugby berth and for that I greatly admire him. If the Eastern Cape had a Super Rugby franchise, it would have had a much bigger chance of keeping players born and bred in the Eastern Cape, in their home Province. With a Super Rugby franchise, better sponsorships would have been possible, but this has not happened in the past.
Just through a quick count on the internet I found at least 23 players, of which 9 are players of colour, that are playing elsewhere at present. These are the players that I found (name, position, franchise/club, school):
1. Lionel Cronje, flyhalf, Lions, Queens College (Queenstown)
2. Siya Kolisi, flank, Stormers, Grey High (PE)
3. Odwa Ndungane, wing, Sharks, Hudson Park (EL)
4. Akona Ndungane, wing, Bulls, Hudson Park (EL)
5. Keegan Daniel, flank/8th man, Sharks, Dale College (KWT)
6. Lwazi Mvovo, wing, Sharks, Maria Louw High (Queenstown)
7. Ryan Kankowski, 8th man, Sharks, St Andrews (Grahamstown)
8. Rory Kockett, scrumhalf, Castres (France), Selborne (EL)
9. Rocco Jansen, wing, Cheetahs, Queens College (Queenstown)
10. Lubabalo Mtembu, 8th man, Sharks, Dale College (KWT)
11. Steven Sykes, lock, Sharks, Marlow (Cradock)
12. Sibusiso Sithole, wing, Sharks, Queens College (Queenstown)
13. Tim Whitehead, centre, Sharks, Grey High (PE)
14. Ligtoring Landman, lock, Cheetahs, Despatch High
15. Bjorn Basson, wing, Bulls, Dale College (KWT)
16. JJ Engelbrecht, center/wing, Bulls, Grey High (PE)
17. Dewald Potgieter, flank, Bulls, Daniel Pienaar THS (Uitenhage)
18. Jacques Potgieter, flank, Bulls, Daniel Pienaar THS (Uitenhage)
19. Jan Serfontein, centre, Bulls, Grey High/Grey College (PE/Bloem)
20. Nico Scheepers, fullback/wing, Cheetahs, Nico Malan (Humansdorp)
21. Cameron Jacobs, wing/centre, Cheetahs, Framesby (PE)
22. Michael Killian, fullback/wing, Lions, Muir College (Uitenhage)
23. Ross Geldenhuys, tighthead, Lions, St Andrews (Grahamstown)
I am sure if I dig a bit deeper I fill find scores more players that grew up and were schooled in the Eastern Cape. With a Super Rugby franchise, they may still have been here!
Yes, the Kings are being set up for failure. How can SARU expect them to develop a Super Rugby team in just one year? This is really ridiculous. Let us just look at what happened to the western Force and the Melbourne rebels in their first two years (won, lost, drew):
1. Western Force - lost 10, won 1, drew 2 (2006); lost 6, won 6, drew 1 (2007)
2. Melbourne Rebels - lost 13, won 3, drew 0 (2011); lost 13, won 3, drew 0 (2012)
The Lions' results in the last 3 years also make for dismal reading: 2010 ended 14th (S14), 2011 14th (S15), 2012 15th (S15).
i therefore believe that the Kings should get at least 3 - 5 years in Super Rugby to build a home-based team. I believe that the list above speaks for itself. There is no doubt that not all the listed players would have stayed in the Eastern Cape, but with a Super Rugby franchise in the Province, there would have been a much better chance of keeping them here. There are so many players of colour playing very good rugby for their high schools at present. With the Kings being in the Super 15, they can be brought through the ranks and not be lost to the Eastern Cape.
Please SARU, give the Kings a better chance!