The Citizen (KZN)

SA in line for yet another Super failure

- @jacovander­m Jaco van der Merwe

Contrary to the whining from local rugby fans that Mzansi will pay the heaviest price in deflating the current bloated Super Rugby format, SA Rugby boss Jurie Roux came out swinging in defending the decision to axe two of our franchises.

Roux said selfishnes­s and greed got us into the mess in the first place, and hoped that emotion and politics are left out of the equation when the tough calls are being made.

The decision over who stays and who goes should actually be pretty easy. All the committee tasked with solving the mystery needs to do, is take a look at the mistakes we’ve made in the past and not repeat them. That way the job should be halfway done already.

The first obvious thing to come out of the rumour mill in debating how six will become four, was the case of mergers. Surely they can’t be serious. Any of the current decision makers around in the late 1990s should know that merging together sides of which the majority of their fans are separated by deeply-routed provincial­ism simply isn’t an option.

Before the 1998 season, the bright sparks decided to merge not only the Lions and Cheetahs into a Super Rugby franchise, but also Griquas who incidental­ly topped the Currie Cup log later that year.

The joke is, after finishing the 1997 season in very respectabl­e positions of fifth and seventh place on the Super Rugby log respective­ly, the Lions and Cheetahs’ marriage was a complete disaster as they could together only finish 12th out of 12 teams in 1998. And apart from two semifinal appearance­s under the tutelage of wily Kiwi Laurie Mains in 2000 and 2001, the unhappy pussy cats never finished outside the bottom two of the log for seven out of nine seasons.

And apart from the cross-Vaal River disaster, there are other problems in trying to spread an identity too thin. Back then there might have hardly been players from Border representi­ng the Sharks, but because of an agreement with the partners who made up the franchise, the Durbanites were scheduled to host the odd match in East London. This turned out to be as much of an away venue for them as for their opponents.

Not even too mention those unfortunat­e jersey designs where all the teams who made up the franchise’s colour was flung together on one single shirt. I remember Province stripes getting lost between SWD’s green and Boland’s black and gold. How confused can one chameleon get?

And then there was the ill-fated promotion/relegation arrangemen­t when the Lions were booted to make way for the Kings in 2013. Just in case they consider that as a possible route to soften the blow for the two sides who get the chop, just use the Kings’ longtime suffering as example of just how financiall­y unsustaina­ble it is trying to make your way back into the big time.

But the decision isn’t open for public voting and all we can do is wait with baited breath. If the past is used as guideline, we should be alright.

Yet I can’t help getting fidgety about the prospect of yet another South African entry into the Super Rugby book of epic fails.

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