If there is one thing that comes close to my love for rugby it is my love for good music, and the moment I read an article about how SA Rugby must ensure a stay of execution for the Kings in 2014 and not subject them to a promotion/relegation scenario which might see them back out in the cold again, the Simple Minds tune popped into my head where I immediately thought of the Lions Rugby Union and franchise and how we must not, forget about them.
All of you will know I have been a supporter of the Kings being allowed the opportunity to play at the highest level in rugby for many years now. The reason for this was simple, that by including the Eastern Cape into our top rugby structures will benefit the game in South Africa as a collective.
It is safe to say the Kings won the hearts of many who doubted, or even hated them, proving, to an extent that their inclusion is for the good of rugby in South Africa. But if we believe for one second that their inclusion should be at the expense of another South African union or franchise we have totally missed the point.
Of course it did turn out that the Kings 2013 participation came at the expense of the Lions, but that has more to do with administrative blunders than good, proper planning. I am also well aware that rugby is a professional sport where results ultimately matter, but if we now cast the Lions aside the point of all this, serving the game of rugby in South Africa as a collective, is completely lost and we would not have learned anything.
The reason for the sudden love-affair with the Kings by so many is not because of their results. They currently sit with two wins from seven games played and one draw which by all accounts is a pretty average return. They will end bottom of the South African conference log, you can quote me on that. What the Kings did manage to do was add a dimension to the South African game – and I highlight add because this is the point.
Which average South African rugby supporter knew of players like Sergeal Petersen, Shaun Venter, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Englebrecht to name a few – or more pertinent still, would we ever have known of them? Who out there thought Catrakilis was only a good Currie Cup player, or that Waylon Murray, Andries Strauss, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira, Kevin Buys or Ronnie Cook were over-the-hill, journeymen or simply not good enough for this level?
The Kings have added to the South African rugby dynamic which was the point of those who supported their inclusion – it was never, or should never be a case of their inclusion substituting for something, or someone else. It is for this reason that the Kings lesson should be not to only fight for their continued inclusion which will no doubt add even more in future, but that we should not allow the Lions to end up where the Kings once were.
So as much as I agree with the author and the case he made for the Kings continued inclusion in Super Rugby we should be mindful of how this is done so we do not repeat past mistakes and continue to add to the dynamics of the game in this country.
Simply put, going forward beyond 2013, we must find a way for the Kings to co-exist in Super Rugby with the Lions in some way or form, not at their expense.