Don’t you… Forget about me…


As you walk on by, will you call my name?

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.

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  1. Well I am all out of ideas on how to keep both teams involved, I come back once again to the uneven slit of talent in SA, and that mainly due to finance.

    The reality is if we have 6 teams involved in Super Rugby we are always going to have poor performers unless we find a way where there is perhaps some draft format thwere talent can be spread more equally.

    What the kings have shown is that there is talent everywhere in SA and not just where we want it to be, but I sure as hell don’t have answers for the problems.

  2. Hi Morne don’t know why it should be a fight.
    Superrugby was supposed to be a regional competition ,why not just have the Lions/Bulls(Gauteng) as one team

  3. Not to sound like I hate everything Lions, please remind me again why we “need” them? So that two guys and their dog can go and watch rugby at Ellispark when the Lions play? So that they can continue to be perenial bottom dwellers in Superugby?

    I might have posted those questions tongue firmly in cheek, but on a more serious note, why do we need the Lions? We have a franchise in Gauteng, what value does another one add? On historical form from 2000 not much.

  4. Craven, there are two very simple reasons why having the Lions play Super rugby is a good thing – opportunity and experience.

    Look at the Springbok fly-half situation in 2012. The Sharks’ first choice fly-half was Freddie Michalak, who’s obviously French. The Stormers’ first choice fly-half was Peter Grant, who’s never been near a Springbok squad. Johan Goosen was injured more than he played and Morné Steyn had a shocking dip in form. If we only had 4 Super Rugby teams, we would’ve had no other option to come in for the Springboks. If we had the Lions and say the Kings, we would’ve had the likes of Jantjies and Catrakilis playing Super Rugby and gaining experience against international players. The more teams we have, the more experienced players we have.

    Also, the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls will always compete for the top players. This means that the Cheetahs, Kings and Lions will ideal teams for young players to get experience. Unless you’re an exceptional player (eg. Jan Serfontein), it’s significantly more difficult for young players to break into top teams than difficult teams.

    And lastly, it was reported that the Kings had deals agreed with the likes of Brian Mujati and Pedri Wannenburg, but that the delay in confirming their Super Rugby participation scuppered those deals. If we had the Kings and the Lions playing, more opportunities would be created in South African rugby to try and entice those players back. We can’t compete financially with the European heavyweights, but it we create more opportunities (for a player to play at the top level), some might return.

  5. Salary Cap the Curie Cup.

    Have Kings play in it.

    Promo-relegation in CC to play Super rugby. Every year.

  6. We don’t have to forget the Lions, but the Lions should forget about playing Super Rugby.

    The song ultimately is about moving on. Remembering the past, not trying to relive it.

  7. Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 3:22 pm:

    I think it will need a more comprehensive over-all of SA rugby.

    Something like:
    5 salary capped SR teams
    10 salary capped CC teams

    Teams limited to a set number of contracted players with SR contracts applying during SR only and CC contracts during CC only.
    Boks are contracted by SARU directly for the international season only and are not available to play CC.

    The only junior rugby should be Varsity Cup with teams completely separated from the unions and age limited.

    No more B teams and B divisions. Rugby levels should progress from Schools, Varsity Cup, CC, SR and Boks and there should be a descending number of teams for each ascending level. Each level should fund itself exclusively. All money generated by the Bok team belongs to SARU and is spent on the Boks only. All money generated by SR is shared by the SR teams and is used for SR only. And so on down.

    There should be a complete separation of team identities and organizations between the levels.
    eg. There may be no connections or contract overlaps between the BBRU and the Tuks VC team.
    If the WPRU decides they want to play SR, then they cannot play CC. There must be new completely independent Cape based teams for CC. Perhaps one in Cape Town and one in Stellenbosch, but they may have no connections and no sharing of resources with the Stormers. Else the smaller city CC teams will never be competitive.

    Once you accept salary caps and revenue sharing, you should forget about P/R. Entry into any level of rugby should be determined by a minimum amount of fans and revenue a team can bring to the collective, ensuring that they can afford to contract a competitive team without being a financial burden on the others.

  8. One correction:

    Finances are important, but they should not be the only criteria for entry. Intangibles, like culture, vitality and political objectives should play a role also. Herein lies the main reason we SHOULD FORGET ABOUT the Lions. The Cheetahs and the Kings have both brought vital positive intangibles to the game, whereas the Cats and the Lions’ contributions have been overwhelmingly negative.

  9. I saw the title of this post and thought this was going to be a “where are they now” type post – maybe letting us know what Dewey Swartbooi or similar oldy but goody is up to.

    Have not really looked to closely at Kings but want to now due to Wimpie van der Walt. Love that name!

  10. Reply to Timeo @ 3:25 am:

    The only possible problem I see with that scenario is when someone like the Stormers experience the type of season like last year where they had a horrendous amount of injuries. Where will they draw players from if the CC and Varsity Cup teams are independent from them?

  11. Was my fathers 75th birthday on Sunday, so there was a family gathering. First time in a while since I saw my brother. As most of you know he is a president of one of the Unions.

    The conclusion is that there is a very long and hard road ahead for the GLRU. Don’t expect a return to SR very soon untill the SANZAR contract is resigned again.

    I blame the GLRU and all Lions supporters should stop putting the blame on SARU and Kings. The GLRU knew by getting last every season will have an impact.

    I do though stand frimly behind Oom Kevin and I believe he can turn the Union around, but he must appoint strong personalities, in which he so far has failed, but I still believe, what else is there to look forward too?

    I don’t know who is on top of each conference. I watch the occasional game.

    At the end, both of us, my brother and me, came to the same conclusion as well.

    Money has turned the game we both loved into something we are starting to despise.

  12. Reply to Craven @ 7:18 am:

    The pre-set squad size is to take care of temporary injuries. When a player is injured for the rest of the season, he is removed from the squad and the team is then free to contract any player they can find for the rest of the season.

    All the CC players will be off-contract during SR, so they should be able to get the best player in the position that is not already playing SR.