“The longer this matter is delayed the more we, the South African Rugby Union, look like idiots. It is becoming more and more embarrassing each day.”
These are the words of a provincial rugby union president who, along with the other 13 union presidents, would have been voting on the make-up of South Africa’s Super Rugby participants for next year at a Saru General Council meeting on Friday. The meeting, though, was postponed, leaving several administrators unimpressed.
According to last week’s Saru release, the meeting was “postponed on request from the majority of the Saru provincial unions”.
The Star, though, has been told that Saru pushed to have the meeting postponed as they are still trying to find solutions to the Super Rugby conundrum of getting six teams to play in a five-team conference.
The Southern Kings have been promised Super Rugby participation from next year, replacing the worst performing South African team this year – and that is the Lions.
But with a decision on participation, or an alternative to the team being relegated, now not likely until after August, the administrator The Star spoke to says the Kings as well as the team which gets relegated are being treated very poorly. “I understand Saru are trying to sort something out for the relegated team, to keep everyone happy. But the fact is, a decision was made and it’s now time that we get on with it. This matter must be put to bed. It’s embarrassing and the longer we delay the more the public views us (Saru) like idiots,” he said.
Rumours that the Kings were considering stepping aside until 2014 to allow Saru more time to find a solution were refuted by Eastern Province president Cheeky Watson on Thursday.
“The Kings are in for 2013 ... we won’t be standing down. But we also know that this is a huge decision for everyone involved in rugby in South Africa,” he said yesterday.
“Delaying making an announcement, or rather deciding on the structure and make-up of the participants for next year, is putting a lot of pressure on the Kings and the Lions but let’s be honest ... this is the biggest decision Saru will make in the last decade. It affects many people, many unions and many structures.
“The thing is what the Kings don’t want is to come into Super Rugby and disrupt the whole structure of South African and Super Rugby. So delaying a decision to ensure it’s right for everyone is something that has to be done.”
It is understood an alternative competition for the team dropping out is being negotiated by Saru and not until there is sign-off on such a deal will the affected union be prepared to step aside.
Watson, though, admits that with a little over four months to go before the Super Rugby teams start preparing again for next season’s competition, time is not on the Kings’ side. “Everyone is under pressure. The Kings want to start signing players and getting ready for next year, but we can’t until this matter is dealt with. The Lions,too, need clarity. It’s getting very late to make a decision and the uncertainty is doing no-one any good. But we need to remember the enormity of this decision.”
Asked if he had any idea how the matter would be resolved so late into the year, Watson said simply, “I wish I knew.”
Saru have given no indication when the Genral Council will now meet to vote on the make-up of SA’s Super Rugby teams next year, saying only they “will not comment on the participation options for Super Rugby 2013 until after the next Saru General Meeting.”. – The Star