Well well well. As much as we wanted to believe SA Rugby about the Southern Kings’ chances of making it into the expanded Super 15, there was always a little voice in the back of our minds, referred to as Cynical Sam (as mentioned to me by a friend), who knew otherwise.
The Southern Kings (which Australia and New Zealand still often refer to as the Southern Spears … no surprises there in what isn’t a surprising scene of deja vu) were meant to be the final piece of the jigsaw that would energise and add some professional structure down in the south-eastern Cape. Alas, it won’t be with the Australians well and truly holding all the aces when it comes to the allocation of the new franchise.
It’s not that the South African media and rugby public weren’t tipped off about this outcome. When the new agreement, proposed to broadcasters, was struck leaving the new team marooned in the Australian conference, there was an air of “some one screwed up here”.
Right from the get go, South Africa was at a disadvantage and now SA Rugby are crying over spilt milk, which they themselves milked from the cow in the first place. Oregan Hoskins, who certainly has done a much finer job in being the figure head of SA Rugby then his predecessor, Brian van Rooyen (to the best of our knowledge anyway), was quoted on Supersport.co.za, saying: “Hoskins believes New Zealand and Australia have already made the call that the new team will be based in Melbourne, the Aussies for obvious reasons and the Kiwis because it would mean far less travelling for their teams.”
Hoskins continued: “We’re outvoted anyway, we always are. But I haven’t given up. I thought we might actually be able to have a combined franchise or thought it was possible they could spend time in both countries … maybe even more time in Australia, seeing they are playing in the Australian conference. But I’m not sure if this whole idea will get past first base anyway, because Australia is keen on having its own team in the competition.”
Though Hoskins is indeed correct in his assertions that the Australians and the New Zealanders tend to stick together like a cabal when it comes to rugby matters, ganging up on us “Jaapies” (said in an Antipodean accent), Hoskins has gotten his timing wrong.
The time to raise a fuss and slam some fists on a hard surface was several months ago when the new format was being negotiated by the Southern Hemisphere “partners” (I use that term loosely, since Sanzar are as buddy-buddy at times as Germany and the Soviet Union were before they went to war against each other in 1941). To now say that we’re being bullied is a bit too-little too-late.
The real victims here are the players that could have possibly come through the ranks and represented the Kings against Super opposition, providing that much-needed outlet for rugby in the region. SA Rugby messed up, and though many people said so at the time of the announcement of the new format, we were told that “No, the bidding process is fair and we have as much a chance as those Aussie scum” (I added that last part for effect).
Apart from this, there are a couple of rotting fish heads that still have to be discovered but when they are found by that instinctive detective called time, we will see that Australia is facing a tough time already fielding four sides and when their fifth comes along, unless there is a spike in interest in the game, there team could very well be known as “the best of poached talent from South Africa and the islands that New Zealand don’t pay attention to”.
The Currie Cup looks like it might also get in the way of Sanzar “progress” (another very loose choice of word). With the Super 15 running from February to August, how on Earth are we going to support a home-and-away round of fixtures between eight teams? The most likely scenario would be that two more teams will be exiled to the 1st division, leaving the Big Five plus Griquas (since they appear to be the best of the rest) to contest SA’s annual domestic showpiece.
Will it be a blessing in disguise? Who knows, but right now I’m gatvol of all this nonsense. Thank goodness we only have to wait two years to see how badly SA Rugby really screwed up. I would implore SA Rugby to prove me wrong and hopefully they do, but Cynical Sam disagrees and right now, he has a better track record then most.