Kings on a road to nowhere


Even with a surprising win the Kings will suffer for the way in which SARU handled the whole episode surrounding their entry into Super Rugby

Gavin Rich, Weekend Argus

This is quite a cumbersome effort, so I will only retype a few telling excerpts from this author’s column in the Weekend Argus. Rich writes:

“What should have happened was that four years ago SARU should have started injecting money and expertise into the Kings.

“At the same time they should have informed the Lions and the Cheetahs that the inclusion of the Kings were non-negotiable, that there wasn’t going to be SR room for both frnchises, and that they have four years to come up with a workable solution to their own predicament.

Rich carries on, saying that those who say that the Cats were unworkable have short memories. They were more succesfull than the Lions or the Cheetahs.

“The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that, even if purely from a geographical viewpoint, the Kings have to be included in the SR. And they should be given time to build, rather than thrown to the wolves like they are now.

“Were the Kings entering the competition today (Saturday) assured of at least a three year stay there would be a purpose to it. A last place finish amongst the SA franchises will see them playing a promotion-relegation game against the Lions. Lose that, and they are back out of it again.

“From a transformation and rugby sell point of view the sport administrators shouldn’t have required government meddling to see the value of having the EC represented in SR is a no-brainer.

“The EC administrators could have been more pro-active themselves in ensuring thay they generated sufficient growth for the challenge to be less daunting. But given the uncertainty over their future that has lasted for much of the past decade, it is also understandable why businesses were reluctant to invest and why top players think twice about relocating.”

To me as an observer that is the crux of the matter. Surely in the end this will go down as one the most embarassing bust-ups in the history of SARU, not only postponing a problem, but worsening it at the detriment of the national game and thowing around chunks of a budget that hardly meets ends as it is.

I can imagine that a big percentage of the supporters that turned up on Saturday will not be aware that the Force is arguably the second weakest team in the competitition. One can only wonder how they will react when the heavy losses start occurring. How many will be in the stands at the end of the season?

Sponsors, I would presume, are better informed. Investing heavily in a one-year side is just not good business, especially not in the current economic climate. And the sport needs sponsors.

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  1. OK, I’ll type slowly and hopefully someone somewhere can give me an acceptable answer.

    Where does this notion come from that either the Lions or the Cheetahs (or the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks for that matter) have this God given right to compete in Superugby?

    The Kings have in the first season already surpassed the woefully inadequate Lions season under Dick Muir when they failed to win even one game. So have they now “earned” their place? Apparently not when reading on social media, no, now they have to beat the likes of the Crusaders or Chiefs to “prove” they belong in SUperugby.

    Please run that by me again, when exactly last did the Lions franchise manage this? As for the rest, the Cheetahs have been perenial alsorans, the Bulls have a season under belt where they finished stone last and the Stormers have also been relegated (albeit as WP).

    The point I am trying to make is that none of these franchises should have a “right” to compete and the whole notion that would should try and enter 6 teams is just as stupid.

    I do, however, agree that the whole Kings saga was handled appalingly poorly, but then again, when last did SARU handle anything properly (Heyneke’s appointment anyone?).

  2. Let’s explore what it means when someone says you earn the right to participate.

    The right to participate in a competition comes due to a qualifying process (if one is in place), in this case there is no such qualification system in place.

    If the five SA teams that play in the Super XV qualified via the Currie Cup, which was the case in the past, then it was clear who should or should not be in Super XV.

    The problem for SARU is that THEY made promises prematurely. THEY had to fix or appease or console the Kings.

    It is really immaterial whether the Kings DESERVE a place in Super Rugby.

    The fact is SARU had to correct their blunder and their solution was simple. The last placed Franchise in the SA conference of 2012 moves out and the Kings move in.

    Development of the Kings over the past number of years siince they were made promises is a totally different matter altogether once again.

    Why is it that they have not developed with Super XV in mind?

    Is it money?

    Was it poor planning?

    Whatever the reason (I am not going to debate them) it is a mess.

    Ultimately comparing the successes of the Lions and the Kings is a fruitless exercise, the KIngs have played ONE Super XV match, the rest of their first season still to play.

    If we are going to argue the merits of whether the Kings or Lions deserve to be in Super Rugby then we are totally missing the plot.

    This is about the fact that the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are realistically the only three SA Franchises that have a chance of winning the tournamnet.


    Bloody obvious, market, money and poaching players from those teams that cannot pay higher wages.

    If you want to start looking at reasons, look at the imbalance of revenue between the top three teams and then the rest in SA.

  3. Forgot to add.

    Without money there is no development, even with money development seems to be the alternate modus operandi when it comes to finding talent, poaching is the primary method.

    Arguing the merits of the Kings inclusion is on socio political grounds the most obvious justifiction.

    The region needs a representative in Super Rugby.

    Going on merit, you must first blame SARU for reducing the Currie Cup to a second rate competition where fewer and fewer teams have the opportunity to earn revenue and compete with the top teams.

  4. Reply to biltongbek @ 10:44 am:

    Your 2nd paragraph is just plain false.

    For S14, the qualifying process was a bid presentation, with an outside panel adjudicating, the EC bid came in last.
    The S15 qualifying parameters were agreed with the Sanzar and broadcast partners. The Kings lost again.
    For 2013, the Kings have automatic qualification at the expense of the last placed 2012 team and for 2014, there will be a P/R match.

    A different process every time. Right there, you have the source of all the anti-Kings resentment. Putting the blame on SARU is for naught. The only process which was ever going to be accepted was one that got the Kings in. That requirement is not going to go away.

  5. Reply to biltongbek @ 3:01 pm:

    The qualifying criteria included some items that were based on politics and some that were not. It’s still qualifying criteria. The unsavoury politics happened every time after the EC lost out.

  6. Reply to Timeo @ 4:46 pm:

    And as we all know, qualifying for
    anything on merit is not part of
    the ANC agenda.
    Maybe SARU took this into account,
    rather than taking the Kings through
    the ropes and letting then earn a
    spot in the SR via the CC and a proper
    building process.

  7. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:06 pm:

    Nobody earns the right to play Super Rugby through Currie Cup, that should never be the criteria. I do agree that the competition should have been used (in addition to financial support and audits to make sure money is not wasted) to better prepare the Kings.

    Timeo highlighted the criteria of the past above, only one thing I would like to add is that when it came to Super 15 in 2009 the Kings actually had the best rugby bid, Rebels were selected for geographical reasons.

    There is some irony in that, as many have argued the Kings should have been included in Super Rugby if it is only based on geographical reasons (ahead of one of the two Gauteng franchises 60km away from each other).

  8. Reply to Craven @ 7:52 am: I agree with a Cats like team competing in Super Rugby with Kings given a change to develope. Neither Cheetahs nor Lions will ever get close of winning or even making a semi final of this Super Rugby.

    At best they will be competitive in CC and nothing more. They do not have the money nor the players that wants to play their. Players use them as stepping stones and the once that do stay their throughout is only a few.

    Neither one of them have the depth to last a whole Super Rugby season and that is were they fall sort every year and will do so every year they play.

    What counts agianst both teams is that players see them getting higher honours only if they play fro Bulls, Sharks or WP. The once that do come to them are left overs from these unions like Sadie and Cronje.

    Thats just how I see it

  9. Reply to Morné @ 5:37 pm:

    If you take a quick look at a map of South Africa, then you’ll notice that Cape Town could never have a team if geography was the sole criteria. Slice the country into five equal pieces anyway you like, Cape Town is central to none.

    Say hello, to the Calvinia Stormers, the Cradock Kings, the Lady Smith Sharks, the Kimberly (go Griquas) Cheetahs and the Bela-Bela Bulls

  10. Stomers, Bulls, Lions, Kings, Central Regions

    Stormers self evident, So too Bulls, Fix Lions (its largest city in africa FFS so money etc there to have a great franchise), Kings as a coastal team representing a large area.

    Central Regions team must be like Brumbies. Base them in Bloem with separate coaches to the cheetahs but draft players from all over the country.

  11. Only way to do this is drop the farnchise Idea and make it a qualifying through CC requirment.

    8 CC Teams fighting for the 5 S15 spots.
    Bottom CC team drops to 1st div with the top 1st div team moving up.
    Fair, logical, competition based. Bring in a system like they have in the NFL to spread the wealth evenly for the CC Teams and also a drafts system for the smaller CC teams to get top players.

    Simples! :dead horse:

  12. Reply to Boertjie @ 12:13 pm:

    Yep… they can only blame themselves for poaching, crap marketing and poor governance considering they’ve had the same share of Super money and won several CC titles in the last few years…

  13. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 12:52 pm:

    On de udder hand, Bloem is sommer just
    a little dorp, and quite isolated.

    The more I think about it, the more upset
    I become about the way SARU handled this.
    Cheeky bemoans this in the morning paper,
    saying its impossible to involve a sponsor
    for one year, stating there are 26 top
    players that really “belong” with the Pukes
    (which from a pro point of view does not
    carry much weight for me).

    Maybe he should have reclined SARU’s offer
    and fought another year for a fair deal.
    With his ANC contacts he could have forced

  14. Reply to Morné @ 1:11 pm:

    With what money?

    The whole SS is overblown as it is. But I
    suppose that will not perturb SANZAR.

    Already the SA injury list is about 15 long
    after one set of games.

    Hulle moet maar voortfok.

  15. Reply to Boertjie @ 1:55 pm:

    That’s the thing, they want to expand to get more money – next up we will see Asian markets and American markets approached.

    Why do you think it took so long for Arg to play in 3N? They were good enough – but they don’t provide a ROI.

  16. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 10:00 am:

    I like the idea of an 8 (or 10) team CC with teams of equal strength, but using it as a qualifying process, won’t work, unless the Aussies and Kiwis do the same.

    The Aussies can’t, the Kiwis won’t, and they and the broadcasters won’t be pleased at the result at all.

  17. There is not enough concentrated money in the Free State to maintain an SR team. Just look at that crowd they had in Bloemfontein this weekend. Fourteen thousand on opening day, for a local derby, is pathetic!
    The Cheetahs and the Sharks should merge. Natal has the money and the Free State has the players. I’ve heard, most Staters have Sharks jerseys already.