It can be goodbye Lions, hello Kings come 2013 as a political decision has been endorsed to allow only ONE TEAM per PROVINCE.
Lappe Laubscher reporting exclusively for RuggaWorld.com asks the question of exactly who is uninformed and who is trying to fool who?
PLEASE NOTE: The heading an intro is not the making of the author but was done in the editing process.
Newspaper stories in South Africa suggests that the South Africa Rugby Union is in a highly embarrassing situation after the board promised the Southern Kings franchise of Port Elizabeth that they will play in the Super 15 competition next year.
SANZAR is adamant that there is no place for a sixth South African franchise in the competition and SARU thus far has kept mum on the issue.
But facts tell a different story. A story of the behind the scenes influence of politics and big money.
Let us look at these facts.
- Last month there was a major indaba between the Minister of Sport, the department of sport and the various stakeholders in South African sport at the historic Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. At this indaba a document on the future of South African sport was presented by the department of sport was endorsed by the minister and the various delegates.The document is now the official document on the policy of the South African government on sport.In the document, among various other issues, it is stated that as from 2013 no sport will be allowed to enter more than one team per province in any competion. At the moment the South African teams in the Super 15 are Bulls (Pretoria and Gauteng), Lions (Johannesburg and Gauteng), Cheetahs (Bloemfontein and the Free State), Stormers (Cape Town and Western Cape) and lastly Sharks (Durban and KwaZulu-Natal).It is obvious from this document that the Gauteng province will only be allowed to enter one team and will have to choose between the Bulls and the Lions or combine these two teams.
- The Southern Kings` home is Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape.
- In the last week of January 2012 the Gumede group brought an application for the liquidation of the Golden Lions Rugby Union. There has been no decision on this application. This group was a previous co-sponsor of the GLRU. The group claimed that the Lions owe them more than R90 million. Thus far Mr Kevin de Klerk, the president of the GLRU has denied this claim. In his denial he was unclear whether he only denies the quantum of the claim or whether he denies the claim as such.
- Sail (Pty) Limited, a group in the Rupert stable with a major interest in various sport and leisure activities in South Africa, has an interest in most of the South African rugby franchises with the exception of the Lions. Unconfirmed reports indicate that this group also has an interest in the Southern Kings. The Rupert-group also has a direct interest in Supersport, the company who has the South African broadcast rights for the Super 15 and in Media 24, South Africa’s largest media group. The face of Sail is the highly respected former Springbok captain, Morne du Plessis.
- Lastly it is also a known fact that rugby has come in for a lot of pressure from the South African government for their seemingly unwillingness to provide opportunities for black players to perform at top level. The new CEO of SARU, Jurie Roux, has committed himself to rectify this position.
Allmost from the sidelines, the Tshwane Sports Council has already announced on its website that the colours for teams representing the region (that includes Pretoria and the Bulls) will in future play in be black, green and gold. This will mean the end of the famous blue jerseys that the Bulls used to play in.
In the meantime, the Bulls announced in a seemingly unrelated move that they will in future play in a jersey with diagonal lines in various shades of pink across the chest in their games away from home. According to a press release, that simply doesn’t make sense, this is to “scare” their opponents.
With all these facts as a background it only makes political sense to bring the Super Kings to the party as soon as possible. The only stumbling block at the moment is sponsorship deals in which the players and some of the franchises are involved.
It seems as if SARU is deliberately delaying the announcement of who the Super Kings will replace till the end of the 2012 Super 15 competition to accommodate present sponsorships.
How all this will affect smaller unions like Boland and Border remains to be seen.
In the meantime Cycling SA has almost quietly announced that the sport has last weekend adopted a new constitution to bring it in line with the new government policy.
RW: Laubscher is a retired sports journalist and specialises as an historian in the fields of sport and the Anglo Boer War. He is resident in Pretoria.