The decision that led to the Super Rugby exclusion of the Southern Kings and Cheetahs was one that was to be expected, but knowing the inevitable did little to take away the pain.

The reality of the Kings and Cheetahs no longer being a part of Super Rugby is a painful one, because so many fans around the country have emotional and sentimental attachments to both these franchises.

Mine is an emotional one, as a person who hails from the Eastern Cape - the bed rock of black rugby in this country.

I had the privilege of being born and schooled in the Eastern Cape, and even though my bloodline nourishes the soil of the eastern part of Limpopo, my heart and soul belong to the rugby-rich province.

Rugby runs deep in the blood, and it has been evident for all to see with the heroics of the Kings this season.

I have cried with joy and along with my two kids we have danced and sung in our small lounge, I’m sure to the amazement of our neighbours and the security guards across the road from our house.

The melodic and harmonious celebratory victory song of the Kings “Hey’ wen’ ufanewavala, hey’ wena vula” has often taken me into the Kings changeroom after every one of their historic wins against the Waratahs in Sydney, the Sharks in Port Elizabeth, the Jaguares in Buenos Aires and on to the Loftus turf after they beat the Bulls on Saturday.

Along with millions of Eastern Capers and rugby lovers, I hurt and at the same time I was joyful.

It hurt that the Kings will no longer be part of Super Rugby and the many ignored and discarded black and coloured rugby players will have no place in South African rugby to showcase their skill and talents.

I hurt for Kings coach Deon Davids and his assistants Vuyo Zanqa and Barend Pieterse, who have put in long hours to make men of boys and make heroes of rejects, and this after being handed an ambulance-job two years ago.

I can only imagine what Davids can do if he had the time, resources and backing of his bosses like his counterparts in Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

And people tell us there are no coaches of colour who are competent and capable at the highest level!

I hurt because the Kings were the hope and only opportunity for black and coloured players and coaches to showcase what an inclusive rugby society in South Africa can do for the growth, sustainability and success of the game.

I hurt because the white players in the Kings not only grasped and lived the concept of true transformation but have become better people for embracing what is perceived to be the “unknown” and “weakened” side of rugby.

The growth in captain Lionel Cronje as a player and person has been immeasurable - so too Chris Cloete, Tyler Paul, Michael Willemse, Louis Schreuder, Irne Herbst, Martin Bezuidenhout and many others, as they probably understand better than most never to judge a person by the colour of their skin.

My hurt for those players stems from the bonds they have formed with the likes of Makazole Mapimpi, Andisa Ntsila, Thembelani Bholi, Masixole Banda, Lubabalo Mtyanda and Mzamo Majola during those impromptu Xhosa lessons on the training field.

You see, the Kings are the kind of team we all dream to see one day on every field from school to the lofty arenas where Super Rugby and Test rugby are played.

The Kings represent us, black and white, rich or poor, young and old and that eternal dream most of us have for this country.

In the end a decision had to be made and two teams had to fall out.

Whether it is a good or bad for South African rugby going forward is not for me to judge, but I am hopeful that something good will come from the Kings and Cheetahs playing in the northern hemisphere.

But regardless of the reasoning before me, and knowing this day was coming, I must admit, it still hurts.

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The Star