Tank Lanning

Lions on loan a farce

2012-10-04 08:24
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
And so the Lions players make like an Italian captain and jump from the badly listing Super Rugby ship like rats out of an aqueduct …

It’s difficult to keep track of who is going where, but the Stormers seem set to become the biggest beneficiary of this little farce as tighthead prop Pat Cilliers and flank Michael Rhodes sign permanent contracts with the men under the mountain, while both flyhalf Elton Jantjies and centre Jaco Taute are rumoured to have signed loan agreements with them. Lionel Mapoe is seemingly off to the Bulls and Franco van der Merwe is moving to the Sharks.

This as the Kings ask SARU for permission to play more foreign players and sign contracts with Lions hooker Bandise Maku, WP flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, Argentina scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo and Blues utility back Hadleigh Parkes!

It’s just the little details, they say - like what happens should the Stormers face the Lions in the post season promotion-relegation match - that now need to ironed out before the deals are concluded.

My oath … What a bloody farce!

And it comes as a direct result of the Kings being given a ludicrous single year in which to prove themselves in what many people call the toughest provincial competition in the world. Ask the Force, Rebels and Cheetahs how that first year in Super Rugby worked out for them.

And SARU will use money from its own coffers to pay the Lions the same amount as the Stormers, Cheetahs, Bulls, Sharks and Kings are set to receive from the SANZAR TV money, to keep them alive. Meaning that money that could have been used for development or academies will be used to try and sustain a sixth franchise. This while the Lions and Cheetahs have been proving that just five franchises are beyond the scope of the player resources in South Africa.

So instead of the Kings being used to develop a region rich in rugby relent that has sadly been left to rot for a little too long, they are now under pressure to win at all costs and are thus signing players from overseas and the other franchises. This while the Lions see that promotion/relegation match in 2013 as their lifeline, and are doing everything they can to retain their players until then. And who can blame either franchise? It’s survival of the fittest after all …

If the Eastern Cape is seen as a region deserving of revival (and I would be in that camp), the Kings should have been granted an extended stay in Super Rugby, sans win requirements, but with other targets in place that would require them to both develop and use only Eastern Cape grown talent.

And that would then have required SARU to have made a tough but permanent call as to how the other five franchises fit into the remaining four available spots. Some forward planning - it’s not as if they have not had enough time given how long this Kings fiasco has been hanging around - and a few tough calls were needed.

Instead we have this current “Player loan agreement” farce that depends on what happens in the promotion/relegation match, and the staffing of 6 franchises, using SARU money, while only five play, in an environment where four would be optimum. Cor blimey …

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

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