Give the Kings a chance

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iol spt feb26 Southern Kings-applaud Gallo Images Jacques van der Westhuizen congratulates the Southern Kings on their surprising defeat of the Western Force. Photo by Richard Huggard

‘People are strange’ sang Jim Morrison of The Doors. And consi-dering how some fans celebra-ted and carried on when the Southern Kings lost to the Lions and Griquas in pre-season friendlies it’s no surprise people, and especially rugby fans, are sometimes deemed very strange indeed.

But more strange than people is sport itself. We all know about the unexpected knockout in boxing or the minnows rising above all odds to down the Premiership big guns.

Now I know we’re only one game in for the South African Super Rugby teams, but I can’t help but say “congratulations to the Kings”. That performance first-up against the Force was inspirational stuff and showed that no-one should ever be written off.

Sure the Force are no real, uhm, force in rugby, but still. Not many people gave the Kings a chance, not after a disappointing build-up to their debut, but it just shows you what is possible when every team member is pulling in the same direction.

Bigger tests will come for the Kings, and they may not win again,but they could not have made a more satisfying start.

But now back to my point about people being strange.

I couldn’t help but shake my head and think, “Really, come on now” when after the Kings had beaten the Force on Saturday evening I saw people on social networks going on about how disappointed they were that the Kings had won. Yes, the majority of those people are Lions fans and they’re angry their team has been booted out of Super Rugby, but, come on, the Lions brought about their own demise. And, why should we be denying those players in the Eastern Cape, or those young men who’ve joined the Kings, a chance to play Super Rugby?

Ask any rugby player what he wants most in the game and he’ll tell you it’s to play at the highest level. Hell, in the case of the Kings, all those players want to do is play, let alone at the highest level. I’m chuffed for every one of those players who’ve vowed to make the Kings a special team. I say let them play and enjoy it.

Let’s be honest, those fans north of the Orange River who’re upset about the Kings’ participation really only feel that way because of the politics that was at play that resulted in the Lions being booted out, but that’s another matter altogether. And there can be no doubt there are plenty of rugby fans who just don’t like Luke Watson, or his father Cheeky, being involved in Super Rugby.

But what about all the other players in the Kings region? C’mon, give them a chance ... and let’s celebrate when any SA team wins against overseas opposition. - The Star


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