What makes a name powerful? Is it what we associate with that name? What it represents? And who has the power to change what a name stands for?
The most significant thing for me on Saturday night was not the Kings win over the Force. Statistically the Force is the second worst Super Rugby team in history – personally, I think they are the worst. I predicted in the week leading up to the weekend’s fixtures that the Kings will win, for no other reason than my prediction that the Bulls will beat the Stormers and the Sharks will beat the Cheetahs.
No, it was not the win in Port Elisabeth which made me sit up and take note – it was the fact that over a period of 2 hours 22 guys running out in black, sponsor-less shirts gave a whole new meaning to the word Kings.
It is significant in many ways for me. Firstly, for the fact on how SA Rugby screwed up what was supposed to be a simple thing and only officially announcing the Kings participation in Super Rugby 5 months before the competition kicked off with only a one year guarantee giving them zero chance of signing title sponsors for the competition. More importantly however, it was significant because through nothing more than their actions on a rugby field, a bunch of no-name players manage to change the perceptions, and power of a name they are associated with.
Of course the haters will still hate, not much will ever change that, but where the name of the Kings before only carried or represented all that is negative and wrong in our rugby, it took on a different meaning.
One just have to Google the name Southern Spears or Southern Kings to see what I mean – 99% of what you will find will be about resentment, political meddling, transformation, quotas, court cases, Apartheid and every conceivable negative association that you could wish to find, and little to nothing about the actual game of rugby.
Yet, on a beautiful February evening in the friendly city, 22 guys in those sponsor-less jersey’s had 32 000 supporters in raptures, and from some experiences I am reading about, even tears. An 18-year old winger’s name who is a product from the local school, Grey PE, was suddenly on everyone’s lips as was some loose-forward I am sure 90% of supporters never heard of.
This is not some fairy-tale, the tough games will come, the 40, or 50+ scores will also come, that is the nature of this competition and what history will show happens to any new team coming into the toughest club competition in the world. But that does not matter so much. What matters was a team walking around the stadium after the final whistle thanking their city for coming out in their thousands to support them, and showing that a name, is in fact what you make of it.