Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – The recent insistence by SA Rugby that the
Southern Kings will definitely compete in Super Rugby from next year continues
to fly in the face of nationwide public sentiment around the Eastern Cape
franchise, it seems.
Sport24 conducted a readers’ poll over the past few days,
offering various preferred options for a restructured competition from 2013.
But the vast majority of respondents – some 54% of almost
1,800 votes in total – effectively urged no change at all to the current
15-team, three-conference format, opting for “Rethink the whole Kings
participation: it’s going to make things too messy”.
Then there was a big drop to 17% for next most popular
choice among the six offered: “If there can still only be five SA sides,
relegate the worst-faring SA side this season”.
Under those circumstances, expect more of a home conference
“bloodbath” than usually even occurs for the derbies, as sides go all out this
season to avoid dreaded eviction from Super Rugby.
Third most popular choice (13%) was “Persuade SANZAR to have
16 teams, no conferences, and go back to a round-robin format”.
That would probably make the whole process smoother and less
fractious from a South African point of view, although SANZAR bosses have
warned rather ominously that changes to the current 15-team, three-conference
format (only installed last year) are unlikely right now.
Should amalgamations be necessary to squeeze in the Kings to
the mix, readers reached the interesting conclusion that “creating a unified
Highveld side between the Bulls and Lions” (10%) was a superior option to
“re-establishing a Cats-type franchise between the Cheetahs and Lions” (4%).
A flimsy further 2% of voters, assuming that a South African
side will have to make way, rooted for “Judge the demotion on results over a
five-year period, including the 2012 season”.
Under that model, the
Cheetahs would be favoured to stay at the expense of the Lions, as they have
fared better than the Johannesburg outfit for most of the past five years in