Right, the Lions won’t play Super Rugby next year. That much has been decided by the rugby bosses who earlier this season agreed the last placed team in this year’s competition would stand down to allow the Southern Kings to take their place.
Now I’ve got no problem with the Kings entering Super Rugby ... in fact I don’t even have that much of a problem with the Lions “going down” because they really haven’t produced the goods over the past few years. But what does rile just a little is that the Kings don’t seem to be ready to step up to the plate.
There has been plenty of talk behind the scenes in the weeks leading up to last week’s vote that the Kings admitted they weren’t quite ready to fill a Super Rugby spot.
And this should be no surprise to anyone. After all, the Lions have been part of the competition since its inception and they’re still struggling to find their feet in it.
Now what must one make of the Kings, who haven’t played in the Currie Cup top flight for years? They’re surely on a hiding to nothing, aren’t they?
I mean, really, they hardly have a big-name star in sight and they can’t get out of the lower tier Currie Cup, to compete with the Lions, Cheetahs, Griquas and other big boys.
What the South African Rugby Union and all the presidents of the 14 provincial unions should have done –three, four, five, six years ago – is include the Kings, first, in the Premier Division Currie Cup and then told them that in year X they would play against the lowest SA finishers in the competition and the winner would move on to Super Rugby the following year.
It would have given the Kings time to settle in the Currie Cup – against teams who play in Super Rugby on a regular basis – and it would have been a fair and just way to determine who plays in the biggest southern hemisphere inter-provincial competition in the world.
Sadly though, the people who govern and run the game in this country got this one wrong. No matter how poor the Lions have been – on and off the field – the Kings are simply not deserving of a place in Super Rugby and are not ready. It’s as simple as that.
Once all the politics is taken out of the equation, the solution is simple ... just a pity no one was able to see it.
I really don’t know if anyone wins with the Lions going “down” and the Kings going “up”.
And that’s not the way it should be.