Saru and Watson should hang their heads in shame
One of the beauties of processing words on computers is the automatic records they keep.
Dates, times and views expressed years ago are all there to be called up.
So, from the depths of Microsoft, I called up the subject “Kings rugby” and watched a litany of bad management and old warnings appear on the screen.
Frankly, the Kings have been a disaster for the SA Rugby Union (Saru).
And if disaster is the word for how Saru has gone about it, what does one say about what has gone on in what was meant to be a team composed of players from Eastern Province, Border and South Western Districts, but which ended up being dominated by Eastern Province?
The problem of including the Eastern Cape region in Super Rugby has been around since 2005 – when SA Rugby invited bids for the inclusion of a fifth South African side in the then Super 14.
The bid was won by the Cheetahs, but at the time it was agreed that SA Rugby would support the Eastern Cape region financially and that a team representing the area would be included in the Super 14 for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
This decision led to the formation of the Southern Spears, led by Tony McKeever and, with Peter de Villiers as coach, the agreement was subsequently reneged on.
Even though the Southern Spears were favoured in a high court ruling by Judge Dennis Davis that the agreement was binding, SA Rugby managed to avoid implementing the club’s promotion through other machinations – including the alleged purchase of the shares of the Southern Spears’ three member unions.
SA Rugby managed to disband the Spears but the nettle of what to do with the “terrible trio” would not go away.
Cheeky Watson became president of Eastern Province rugby, the drive to play Super Rugby was revived and this led to the formation of the Southern Kings.
Saru president Oregan Hoskins and his deputy, Mark Alexander, are among those who have taken “personal responsibility” for sorting out the mess, but without any real dynamism and, inevitably, without success.
When Jurie Roux became CEO of the union, more platitudes were bandied about that the area was a nursery for black players.
But in fact, Watson did as he pleased and the Kings did not attain a standard good enough for Super Rugby.
Eventually, Saru could wriggle no more and, in 2013, the “Southern” Kings were included in a 15-team Super Rugby competition at the expense of the Lions.
The men in black and red had an excellent coach in New Zealander Matt Sexton and Watson’s son, Luke, was signed at an allegedly exorbitant salary to captain the team, but in spite of showing some promise, finished last.
The following year, the Kings were defeated in a play-off competition by the Lions.
The Lions returned to Super Rugby, the Kings embarked on a steady decline and, in the end, the only outcome was that the exercise damaged both teams.
Still, the reality that in places such as King William’s Town, Grahamstown, New Brighton and Mdantsane, black youngsters play rugby as a first-choice game loomed large and Saru knew that if proper transformation were to happen, it would be led by the Eastern Cape.
Saru continued to believe that the answer was Super Rugby and this played a key role in the establishment of the new 18team competition in which the Kings have now been included.
Whether the Kings will again be hopelessly out of their depth is a moot point.
Watson has played Saru for fools. Saru, in turn, has come up with half-baked plans it has never seen through.
As the records show, it has often been said before: Saru and Watson have fudged it. They have lied to, betrayed and damaged hopeful and innocent young men.
They should all hang their heads in shame.