The winds of change are finally sweeping through SA rugby, more so in the Free State and Eastern Cape.

I would know about the Free State bit and will soon find out about the Eastern Cape, as I am in the middle of a nine day, 850km cycling trek in support of education in the quaint Eastern Cape hamlet of Queenstown.

Yesterday, we felt the wind and it was not pleasant as we rode from Wepener to Zastron in what seemed would be an easy 67km but which turned out to be painful ... and rewarding at the end.

You see it is on that type of a ride, that one gets to be honest with themselves.

There is no cheating or running away from reality.

The ride itself has to be done, for there are many children in this country that go without quality education and a few days in the saddle through some of the most scenic parts of the country, makes it worth all the pain. The honest must be contemplated, because these are difficult days for rugby in this country.

The epiphany dawned on me as I battled against the wind and what seemed like endless cramps.

It is this part of the country that is more than likely not to have Super Rugby come next year and my finishing point, the Eastern Cape, will also get the cut when a decision is finally made by Saru on which two franchises to eject from the competition from next year and beyond.

As painful as it will be for the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, Saru need to look at themselves in the mirror and be honest.

Once that honesty is confronted, then the decision to cull the Cheetahs and Kings needs to be swift and done so without any emotion.

For too long, rugby decisions have been made by a gang of elected officials, who have been driven by self-preservation and a desire to remain relevant in the fast changing world of rugby. That is why SA rugby finds itself in the mess that it is in today – all because a few old men have made decisions with their hearts and not with their heads.

It is them who must take full responsibility and, unfortunately, find a path out of the current mire we find ourselves in.

If these men speak truth to the man in the mirror, then it won’t be difficult to get that honesty out and make the right decisions.

Obviously, emotions will get the better of most rugby loving South Africans – the Cheetahs are arguably everyone’s second favourite team, while the Kings hold a special place in the hearts of many who are crying for true transformation in the game.

As much as Sanzaar made the decision for the future sustainability of the competition, they have helped us get to that painful place of honesty that has been lacking from many of our rugby officials in the country.

Yes, the Kings are an important part of growing the game in the country but their performances on the field over the years have not helped their cause, while true transformation was never a priority at the union due to the maladministration that went on under Cheeky Watson. The Cheetahs are just as important in that they have been the nursery of our rugby talent for a very long time. But that alone is not good enough to keep them in Super Rugby as the books also need to balance and they must show long term sustainability.

Ultimately, Saru needs to embrace change quickly if there is any prospect of the game growing, despite these setbacks, and also remaining relevant in the country and the southern hemisphere.

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The Star