Watson: ‘SARU unfair to exclude Lions’


Kings captain Luke Watson has said that SARU’s decision to relegate the Lions was unfair and expressed sadness at the Lions’ Super Rugby exit.


Speaking to SportsTalk in a radio interview, Watson sympathised with the Lions’ plight, and said fans had every right to feel aggrieved.

“I’ve always prided myself on seeing both sides of the story, and I can understand how Lions fans could become quite frustrated and angered at the inclusion of the Kings because the way in which it was done was not fair,” Watson said.

Watson said the Lions’ Super Rugby exit saddened him.

“I watched the Lions this weekend and it saddens me to see such a great team, with so many great players (excluded) just as they were coming back on the rise, winning a Currie Cup, playing so well and gaining momentum,” Watson said.

“Even now it saddens me because I look at a lot of players that had to go to the Bulls, to the Stormers. It’s not fair on them and it’s not fair on Lions supporters, so I can understand Lions fans being irritated and anti the Kings. It’s perfectly understandable.”

Watson said he understood the hostility towards the Kings, but felt that the blame lay at the feet of SA Rugby’s leadership.

“There are loads of Lions fans who would love to see us fail. I can understand that.”

“It was never our goal or purpose to get the Lions excluded. Our desire was to be included. In our minds it was never us versus the Lions. (We wanted) to bring top-flight rugby to (the Eastern Cape),” Watson said.

“The leaders and the decision makers at SA Rugby decided that this was the best way forward,” Watson opined.

Watson said that that with players like Andries Strauss, Steven Sykes, Demetri Catrakilis and Bandise Maku he felt the EP Kings could be competitive in Super Rugby, but did not play down the size of the challenge facing his team.

“Super Rugby is the fastest provincial competition in the world. Nothing quite comes close to the speed and tenacity of Super Rugby,” Watson said.

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  1. Oh look, Luke Watson agrees with everyone about the SARU decision!

    But I guess this will be put down to clever PR spin…

    After-all, only certain utterances by individuals ‘on record’ means something.

    Just depends on whether it serves your own pre-conceived ideas I reckon.

    Who knows?

  2. I have little to no respect for Puke. Hence I see this as every other public statement heakes.

    Whether you want to call it “PR” or “political” it isn’t worth much.

  3. Reply to biltongbek @ 10:54 pm:

    Ah, but the ‘puke’ and ‘dutchmen’ quotes which was taken from private conversations are as solid as the rock of gibraltar?

    I mean that is why we all hate him?

    BTW, I got the link to this radio interview if anyone is interested.

  4. This time he is thinking before he speaks…

    Luke is a good player, better than Spies for sure.

    He is disruptive, well that came from Barney’s mouth and now in hindsight Barney should never have gone RWC and only cares for his fat ass on butter. Talk about PR.

    I will support the Kings in games against our Sanzoo partners.

    I will not allow the deliberate Zuma tactics of divide and conquer race politics divide rugby.

    Zuma is one of the most cunning devious politicians in the world and the Kings debacle has his singnature all over it.

    Do not allow the ANC to divide rugby!!!!! Support the Kings.

  5. I do not like the dude for his political shit he brought into rugby, but as a rugby player I can see why he made this statement. Unfortunitly for Puke he will always remembered for what he did wrong and not what he will do right or say for the good of the game. That is just how our rugby public is and will always be.

    For now I rather thank him for supporting what we all said from the start that SARU are idiots and donot know how to combine rugby decisions with being political right in the eyes off the ANC.

    I am glad teh Lions are showing everybody including teh ring heads at SARU they made a mistake, but in the same breath I am a South African supported and will support the Kings this year.

  6. Luke stating the obvious and has matured as a person no doubt.

    Issue with Kings is not that they wanted super rugby.

    Issue is that they wanted it NOW without earning it and was happy to play the Watson card to achieve it.

  7. Samsung S3… Third Samsung…

    Love it.

    Anyway I pretty much have had all the discussions.

    Ollie you’re playing the spin card very much too, and so are you Morne.

    1. In 2006 the Kings did not exist, the Spears did, and they lost the “fifth team” bid to the Cheetahs… then squealed politics and got an in.

    2. Hoskins killed the Spears and then SARU invented the Kings and created an artificial side based on lies and political deception within the area where the main ethnioc group that rules the ruling party comes from… geez how surprising… Nkandla v.0.1 anyone?

    3. Throughout the creation of this entity its president has squealed that his team is “entitled” – his precise words – to playing SR.

    4. SARU bent politically. The Kings get game time in SR.

    The entire thing is a political sham.

    And as for “the players” and “the coach”

    Ag please man. They’re just the soldiers in an unjust system… and if you keep quiet and go along with injustice you are being unjust. Just ask Nazi concentration camp guards who “just followed orders”.

    In contrast to Kevin I’m supporting every team that plays against the Kings. EVERY SINGLE ONE of them…

  8. Reply to DavidS @ 9:10 pm:

    Oh how we forget.

    The Spears did lose the bid (in 2005 btw) when we moved from Super 12 to Super 14, but not against the Cheetahs. The Cheetahs actually ended second from all franchises in the bid process. Spears lost out to the Lions.

    Fair call, no problem with that.

    However, SARU decided that something needed to be done about the region (not government), and it was a PRESIDENT’s COUNCIL decision to include the Spears in Super Rugby in 2007 which at the time, would have been a promotion/relegation scenario for the team that ended lowest in the 1st year of Super 14 of 2006 (Super 12 before in 2005). Of course, this went for a ball as the current franchises at the time threatened all sorts of things.

    Plenty court cases later, the Spears was canned by SARU (not government) buying out SWD and Border and the partnership went bang.

    Then, during the B&I Lions tour in 2009 SARU announced that they will bid for both RWC 2015 and 2019. For that, they needed government backing and sold the Kings promise on the base of this (to develop rugby) – this of course included a Kings team to play the B&I Lions as their ‘official launch’.

    By that time, it was also known that the Super 14 will change to Super Rugby, or the Super 15 and it was SARU’s aim to get the Kings in as the extra franchise.

    Of course, that went for a ball at SANZAR who chose the Rebels even when the Kings bid was considered better for rugby (compared to the Rebels).

    Rugby World Cup bids came and gone, SARU lost out, but they still had a promise to keep you see.

    Events in the last 18 months I believe is still clear in everyone’s minds on what transpired.

    You see – in all this, it was SARU (not government) who made promises, broke promises, and fucked up.

    You are right about politics though, but where you got it wrong is where you believe it was government politics that got involved when it was simple rugby politics within SARU and the unions.

    Government’s mandate handed to SARU (like any other code) was to tranform rugby. SARU chose to make the Kings the face of this project.

    SARU failed us (the supporters), government, the Lions AND the Kings who are now asked to transform rugby in SA within a year.

    Add that to the long list of fuckups since 2006. So be pissed, in fact, be fucking furious about what has transpired in 2013 – but at least be angry at the crowd who fucked up.

  9. Reply to Morné @ 10:00 am:

    Not really

    The Lions did not bid.

    The Cheetahs bid as the “Central Unions”. The Lions were not even the Lions, but the Cats and they did not bid. They changed their name to Lions as the season started.

    The question was always who’d join the Sharks/Bulls/Cats and Stormers.

    As for the debacle.


    I stand by what I wrote.

    It was government pressure from the Xhosa Nostra to pour money down the endless hole of the Eastern Cape. Rugby was never a consideration. Political appeasement was. And that political appeasement was aimed at the ANC by SARU and on the insistence of the ANC.

    Blame SAU?

    Sure but they’re not alone.

    Media pressure from the liberal media played a large role.

    Similarly the war of nerves by the ANC played its role.

    And thirdly the Watson clan played their role… after all they managed to get their son made a Springbok by simple dint of suggesting racism played a role in his non selection in 2006…

  10. Reply to DavidS @ 3:03 pm:

    The incarceration and murder of millions example you give is very different actually.

    The Nazi’s cannot from any angle justify what they did (soldiers up to the fuhrer himself), whereas the Spears/Kings players and coaches can support what their end goal is very easily.

    The road so far getting there has been far from ideal. Which the captain etc. say that they are not happy with.

    But then again, does the end goal justify the means in this case. That is very open to debate.

    So basically, the end goal of the Kings is a far more noble goal than wiping out an entire race. So the soldiers believe in the cause but disagree with the road taken.

    And before you say that the goal is too line their pockets, then you only have a small part of the story.

  11. Cheeky on air now:
    65 – 70% of players in Kings academy are of colour
    90% – of players in academy are local

    – Says that friction with Border was about 2 players and the issue is over, no friction anymore

  12. Reply to Ollie @ 4:29 pm:

    – Not possible to use local talent with time given from notification to start of S15, with 1 year chance and stacked deck players had to be brought in to have a chance at long term vision

    – Cheeky didn’t get involved with Luke being chosen and thought it was a bad idea actually

    – Big crowds expected in PE for home S15 matches. Their is vibe in PE, but it will take time to overcome locals supporting other teams traditionally.

  13. Reply to Morné @ 10:48 pm:

    Puke admitted using the word “Dutchmen” which
    BTW did not offend me.
    He now profusely apologises – FIVE(?) years later?
    And he now realises he should not have given in
    to the pressures to make him a Bok. Still
    remember the arsehole ANC guy who claimed he was
    an honorary black – and then you say there were
    no politics involved?

  14. Reply to DavidS @ 3:10 pm:

    Lions/Cats, same thing other than name. When the Cheetahs broke away they entered a bid as the Central Union (which it still is today) which left the Cats (Lions and Cheetahs marriage) Cheetah-less.

    Here are the actual figures as it stood at the time.

    The bids for South Africa’s Super 14 franchises were judged on:

    Team performance and player development (30 percent)
    Transformation (10 percent)
    Economics (25 percent)
    Support for national teams (10 percent)
    Organisation and planning (15 percent)
    Local support (10 percent)

    The scores (out of 100) were:

    Stormers — 80
    Central Unions (Free State, Griquas and Griffons) — 75
    Sharks — 69
    Bulls — 65
    Cats — 65
    South and Eastern Cape — 60

    Reply to Boertjie @ 5:21 pm:

    In Luke’s case making him a Bok? Of course there was politics involved, he admitted as much himself if you listen to the interview.

    Funny thing though – the guy apologised for the comment, agreed that politics was involved with his Bok inclusion which was unfair to the other Boks and the Bok tradition – yet I see not one comment anywhere of ‘apology accepted Luke’ – or ‘thanks for apologising’.

  15. Reply to DavidS @ 3:10 pm:

    Transformation was always high on government’s list of priorities for the game, whichever way that happened. SARU failed with any other major franchise/union and the Boks to show rugby is transforming – the Spears/Kings was THEIR scapegoat to government where SARU played the numbers game (how many blacks there was in the region) and how it potentially change the face of SA Rugby in this regard.

  16. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:55 pm:

    His father I have zero time for personally.

    For what its worth (which is not much for most) Luke admitted he was young and naive at the time – he actually believed the martyr bullshit.

    People grow up, and again (personally) I have no reason to hold grudges and I love the Bok and Bok jersey as much as the next guy.

  17. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:55 pm:

    Also, there was a story not too long ago that Luke and dad did not get along swimmingly. But those were just rumours.

    I chatted to him before he left for Bath – he was an angry young man and he was sick of being used by his dad and politicians.

    My argument for Luke is the same as any other rugby player – they just want to get on with playing the game really – and he is a good enough player to get on with it in a good way.

  18. Hi All !

    i see people assume that a super rugby franchise will cause players to stay in the region .

    i do not believe this is true . This has been proven by the Lions and Cheetahs . Once the Bulls , Stormers or Sharks come knocking the players will most probably pack up and leave .

    So is there anything in place for the Kings to keep theses players ?

  19. Reply to Ollie @ 4:33 pm:

    “- Cheeky didn’t get involved with Luke being chosen and thought it was a bad idea actually”

    Oh FFS Ollie… and you believe that swill after what he did to Jake White, then PDV?

    For the record… I’d be far happier with Luke being at the forefront of the Kings than his spiv Father!

    So Cheeky (what a stupid name I’ll refrain from now)… so Sneaky says the Border issue is now resolved… what about SWD?

  20. Reply to DavidS @ 9:10 pm: Ai, comparing the Kings rugby players to Nazi consentration camp soldiers is just laugable.

    If you insist on using this flawed logic, then every single white player and Springbok in the Apartheid era was nothing more than soldiers in an unjust system. They are all reduced to lowly Nazi Concentration camp soldiers.
    How many Brain Habana’s and Breyton Paulses do you think missed out to showing their talents to the world. Not to speak of players of colour from other nations not allowed to play against us. Surely it was far more unjust than the Lions being relegated for one season (wich I agree was done the wrong way)

    Mannetjies Roux, Frik du Preez, Jan Ellis, Gysie Pienaar and many more were players that just wanted to play the game, they can’t be held responsible for the politics that excluded others from getting a fair shot.

    The Kings players will have my support for this reason, they were given the opportunity to play the game and like many before them will try and make the most of it.

    So blame politics, SARU, Cheeky, but rather leave the true rugby people out of it.

  21. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 3:42 am:

    Of course they have an influence, their mandate handed to SARU is to transform the game. They put huge pressure on SARU to do this – so the influence is there, and very apparent. How SARU handles that though is what I focus on.

  22. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 2:12 am:

    True, give me an iPhone and I’ll Ebay it and use the cash for something else.

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 2:34 am:

    Don’t shoot the messenger, I was just summarising what he said.

    Some of what he said I’ll take with a rather big pinch of salt (like tha Border and SWD issue) and others I’ll listen to, like numbers in the academy, reason for foreign players etc. and read between the lines.

    That said, I’m not sure how much of the border issue is with clubs and players being unhappy with the Border head honcho’s and how much directly with the kings.

  23. Reply to Morné @ 5:45 pm:


    The end debate was ALWAYS about the SEC bid vs the Free State bid not the Cats.

    And the minute Central Unions (Cheetahs having just won their historic CC against the Bulls were on a high) won it the SEC started their political squealing…

    In those days it was Makhinkise Stofile in charge of Sports Ministry with brother Mike high near the top of Brian Van Ruin’s SARU…

    SARU bent for the Spears or Um – kont – ohs or rather the ANC… the Spears was political as can be. And there are people who have screwed shit up as youngsters and died for it as old men in America. Certain things cannot be forgiven. When Puke Twatson goes to Pretoria and apologizes in Afrikaans to them maybe we can talk… the fact that he still reckons there is an “Afrikaner” bloc running rugby said in public negates anything you may say because undoubtedly in private the words are “Dutchmen”. Maybe he should just adopt the standard ANC lingo and refer to us as “Boers” and start dancing… apparently the Human Rights Commission doesn’t mind…

    Memory is a fickle little mistress is it not?

  24. Reply to DavidS @ 10:23 pm:

    Immaterial how?

    For you?

    Based on what?

    Your preconceived disposition?

    I am not going to repeat everything I said before in this thread about the role of government, SARU, transformation in rugby and the region itself.

    Specifically not to someone who likens the situation to Nazi guards at death camps.

  25. Reply to Ollie @ 10:56 am:

    It’d no secret both SWD and Border had a huge falling out with a spiteful Sneeky Watson!

    And here’s the thing… Border consists of the two biggest blck homelands in RSA namely Ciskei and Transkei… see the irony?

  26. It’s not comparing situations. It’s pointing out a moral hazard.
    The extreme example, illustrates that there is a slippery slope to be careful of.

    I’m on the other side of this, but if one is of the opinion that the Kings gained their position unjustly, then it follows that those who profit from that also do so unjustly.

  27. Sunday the Baltimore Ravens will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome in New Orleans for the Superbowl.

    It’s the only TV show left that all Americans watch at the same time. Even my kids who do not know who is playing.

  28. The head coaches of the two teams are brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, sons of Jack and Jackie Harbaugh.

    People think two brothers squaring off as coaches is extraordinary. What is extraordinary to me is that all their names starts with J.

  29. The price for a 30 sec TV commercial will be around $3.8 million. I’ll try to avoid those.

    Some kids and teachers from, Sandy Hook Elementary school, the one of the tragedy, will sing America the beautiful. A lovely song but this is a situation, way too sad for me – I came to America in pursuit of happiness.

  30. Alicia Keys will perform the anthem before kick-off.

    Beyonce will do the half-time show. She has finally admitted to lip-sinking the anthem at the inauguration and has promised to do penance with a “special” live rendition.

    I’m looking forward to a double dose of Star Spangled Banners, whilst pay special attention to her lips.

  31. This will be Superbowl XLVII (47) and the 10th played in New Orleans.

    The NFL bigwigs really like New Orleans in February. It is Mardi Gras season.

    But this year, New Orleans do not like one particular bigwig, because he suspended their head coach for the whole season, thus ruining the opportunity to watch their hometown Saints playing for the title. Reportedly every bar and restaurant in the French Quarter has a large poster of Commissioner Roger Goodell with the instruction “Do not serve this person” on display.

  32. Before the Baltimore Ravens, were the Baltimore Ravens, one of the perennial best teams in the NFL, they were the Cleveland Browns, one of the perennial worst teams in the NFL.

    For a brand new stadium, owner Art Modell, moved his team in 1996 and instantly became the most unpopular person not in Cleveland. So aggrieved were they that they also built a new stadium and won a team back through expansion in 1999. The new team, appropriately named, The Browns, lived up to expectations and has finished last or almost last, ever since.

    Which just prove the old adage: You can take Cleveland out of the team, but only if you take the team out of Cleveland.

  33. Reply to Morné @ 11:14 pm:

    It was an allegory you idiot.

    If you didn’t understand it maybe you should be back to primary school.

    Let me try and explain it in the same terms it was taught to me. It is a figurative comparison. That means it is (amazingly) not real and (stunningly) not supposed to be taken literally).

    Let me try and explain this the way I explained it to me 4 year old.

    When one uses figurative speech it is meant to describe a situation or thing in a way that does not require actual literal description of the thing. It is most often used by writers and poets. For instance saying that the sun is like butter does not mean the sun is “like butter” but that it looks very yellow.

    Now let us extrapolate into the present situation.

    Nazi camp guards = IF you know your history of the Nuremburg trials (which clearly none of you do) then you know that the few camp guards who were brought to face justice all tried to claim “it was just a job” and they were “only following orders”. BUT that defence was rejected because they served an evil system and should have known what hey were doing was wrong and rejected it.

    Now extracted onto the Kings. The fact that the players are “just doing a job” or “just earning a living” is not an excuse for serving something created by virtue of evil.

    Perhaps it is my own fault for overestimating the knowledge and intellect on RW on occasion…

    This allegorical and metaphorical and figurative description was taught to me in Standard 3…

    I’m wondering if others from RW maybe joined Zuma’s Struggle and left school at the same time he did.*

    * Go look it up yourself…

  34. Ah, but the ‘puke’ and ‘dutchmen’ quotes which was taken from private conversations are as solid as the rock of gibraltar?

    Then why did he apologize for them?

  35. Reply to DavidS @ 10:05 am:

    Well firstly, you can take your condescending comment and go screw yourself.

    This is not the first time you used Nazi’s, Jews and WWII as an ‘allegory’ for nothing more than shock-value to make a point. Clearly what you have not figured out yet in 7 years is that your actual point gets lost because of it and you actually just look like a complete racist.

    Even so, likening the Spears/Kings as an ‘evil’ similar to Nazi’s and death camps where soldiers and players have/had no excuse in following ‘orders’ or inadvertently supporting something? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Just what the fuck did that make Naas, Danie, Frik, Moaner, Divan, and the hundreds of Springboks that had no problem pulling on a Springbok jersey during a time when an actual evil, Apartheid, was around?

    Luke needs to go to Tshwane to apologise to people in Afrikaans? Remind me again when Wynand Claasen, Theuns Stofberg, Hempies du Toit or Louis Moolman went to Soweto to apologise for what they represented and ‘supported’ during that era in Zulu or Xhosa. Or are certain things more evil than others and certain orders to follow more acceptable than others?

    I am done with this discussion and done with this thread.

  36. You know what, fuckit, don’t even bother. Because I could not be arsed either way.

    But I will leave you with this though as a final thought (Jerry Springer style).

    All this ‘we refuse to support the Kings because of what they stand for’ makes you no different from those Cape Crusaders who support the All Blacks.

    I read sometime last week that folks apparently just switch off when the issue of transformation in rugby is brought up and I cannot help but think how switched off some folks were in the 70’s and 80’s.

    You judge Kings players on the institution they represent?


    Best we reflect on those guys we call heroes then in earlier years under Apartheid.

    History and repeating itself?

    I can dip the irony in flower, deep fry it, and eat it.


  37. Just like the ANC SARFU (the predecessor of SARU) apologized for apartheid wrongs in rugby and granted national colours to black players.

    That was just a recital of history but it sinks your little boat…. not even a “best shot”

    Anything else?

  38. Reply to DavidS @ 8:14 am:

    I thought we were talking about those mercenaries (players) who just followed orders?

    Hundreds of players were all too happy to just ‘follow orders’ in an unjust, evil, system yet you regard most of those as heroes?

    Like I said, the irony in all this is so thick I can slice it and deep fry it.

  39. Reply to Morné @ 9:06 am:

    The “I was just doing my job” line does not really work for those old Boks, because rugby was not their jobs. They were amateurs remember.
    But I’m sure if they reach out and apologize to the local AB supporters, that at least some will put it all behind them. It does not really matter though, you buy a ticket and the modern player gets paid, regardless of who you root for. The worst thing for a team is not people rooting against them, it is people ignoring them.

    Rooting against is already very common in SA rugby anyway. Many Sharks supporters cheer for all teams playing the Bulls, many Bulls supporters are always against WP, Cheetahs against Sharks and now Lions against the Kings.

    It’s all part of the passion and it’s good for rugby (in a commercial sense). A marketers dream come true.

  40. Reply to Timeo @ 5:21 pm:

    Actually that just makes it worse, if you subscribe to the point of view being discussed. The old guys had jobs so their livelihood was not at stake, the King’s players do this to put food other table.

  41. Reply to Timeo @ 10:25 pm:

    What I’m saying is that the guys that played in the amateur era mostly had jobs and were earning an income already. I guess how much they earned varied from one player to another.

    It would be a generalisation saying that all the players from the old era earned borderline salaries. I’m also not saying that they didn’t make sacrifices for the game, I also know that they didn’t earn any notable money for playing, so they played for the love of the game.

    Whereas the pro player of today that is not of Bok quality is in a fairly risky business. I specifically refer to the local Kings player when I say this. I’m also not sure what their salary or length of contract might be.. One untimely injury or folding franchise means drawing unemployment for a few of them in this day and age.

    Surely you can see the logic I am using, it’s hardly rocket science.

  42. Reply to Timeo @ 10:25 pm:
    The point is that neither the players before 1990, nor the Kings players should be seen as servants of evil because of politics they had no say in.

    This whole argument was a weak one from the start and doesnt deserve to be discussed like it has been.

    It makes me furious to see that Cricket South Africa refused to hold a moment of silence or allow the players to wear black armbands for Peter van der Merwe who passed away recently. He was the first South African cricket captain to win a test series against England and after retiring he stayed very involved with the game as a national selector and as a top umpire. Cricket South Africa’s response was that they don’t regognise players in this way that played before 1990.

    As I said before it gets ugly when players are held responsible for politics and impropper management by the sports governing bodies.
    It is unfair and inaccurate to blame the players.

  43. Reply to Ollie @ 8:35 am:

    What’s not rocket science is that the pro player today has many more options to play the game at the level he is capable of. He may move in his country or to other countries, even at the highest level, doors are somewhat open for a player who object to something locally, to go and play else where.

    That was not the case for the amateur players of old. If they wanted to play, they had to do it within the system that existed where they happened to live and work.

    Not that I think the moral situations are equal but at least
    the “players just want to play” line had some validity back then.

  44. Divide and conquer Zuma style.

    Let us not be divided by poison pill politics while supporters talk of booing home teams. With one dog comment Zuma divided us on class, race and even black on those who traditionalists and those becomging western.

    I hope the Kings make South African rubgy proud, I doubt it though, by giving their all on the field and then the Lions return shortly.

    I do support relegation and if Griquas get a shot then so be it.