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by Baylion

SARU needs to be held accountable

August 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

After six months in a rugby void and after losing nearly 20 players the Lions Challenge has been met and the Lions are back in Super Rugby (See Lions Back in Super Rugby!) while the Kings return to the nether regions of rugby. All because of an ill-conceived and poorly executed “plan” devised by SARU and approved by South Africa’s rugby union administrators to bring the Kings into Super Rugby at the expense of the Lions.

Reports from the Lions indicate that not only did they lose a lot of players but their earning dropped approximately 30% from 2012. The Lions were fortunate in that sponsors like MTN and Redefine were prepared to give them 2013 to see if they could get back into Super Rugby but others, like Coca Cola, were not so lenient.

Beeld on Friday speculated that, should the Lions lose the play-offs, their losses could amount to up to R100 million per year as losses in sponsorships, stadium earnings, suite sales, supporters kit sales and others mount.

This is what stares the Kings in the face now. Maybe not R100 million per annum as they hadn’t been able to attract big sponsors yet but certainly a heavy loss of income, probably close to R40-R50 million, as well as the loss of key players needed to prepare for the knock-outs next year.

Through player losses the Lions are back where they were at the start of the 2011 Super Rugby season with a bunch of Super Rugby rookies and the next few month will tell whether they lose more players when their contracts expire this year. (See The challenge met, a new challenge begins)

The Kings are possibly worse off than they were last year. Before this year’s Super Rugby most of their players were under the radar of the stronger unions but that has changed and not only have players like Engelbrecht, van der Walt, Bulbring, Petersen and Marais become visible and targets, these players expectations have also increased and the Kings stand to lose a number of players over the next year.

Both franchises will find it near impossible to attract top level players as their positions have been reversed for the next year.

And while these two franchises carry the burden of SARU’s incompetence the SARU executive and South Africa’s rugby administrators continue in their clueless ways and had even awarded SARU’s CEO, Jurie Roux, a bonus of nearly R1 million earlier this year.

Surely it’s time for SARU to take responsibility for this mess and to clean house.

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by Baylion

Super Rugby 2016 Draft Proposal

April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is nearly time for SANZAR to decide on the Super Rugby structure for 2016 so let me do SARU’s work for them and put together a workable solution.

Accommodating both the Kings and the Lions in Super Rugby from 2016 will remain a problem under the current Super Rugby structure. New Zealand and Australia are looking to expand Super Rugby to Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas and changing the Super Rugby to a simple 16 team competition will also not work, in part because the Aussies want a Super Rugby conference that serves as a domestic competition and in part because it makes the conferences lob-sided. For South Africa and New Zealand the conference system can also be a blessing. Both countries have domestic competitions after Super Rugby but at the moment domestic teams are depleted of national players because the Rugby Championship (4 Nations) is also played after Super Rugby and overlaps with current domestic competitions.

This whole Kings/Lions issue as well as the issue of domestic competitions, i.e. Currie Cup, can be resolved quite easily by the tournament model I propose from 2016 when the new broadcast deal comes in.

So SARU should make work of it now and not wait till the last minute again.

  • From 2016 allow 6 teams per conference. This makes space for the Kings, a Pacific Island and an Argentinian team, one per conference. The conferences can even be expanded to 4 conferences once a sufficient number of franchises are established in the new regions.
  • Split the competitions into two divisions and the top three teams per conference after the 2015 season fall in the First Division and the bottom two plus the new teams in the Second Division.
  • Teams play interconference games within their divisions.
  • Teams play local derbies across divisions on a home and away basis.
  • Only points earned against teams in the same division earn points for the Division conference and combined logs.
  • Points earned in local derbies are added for a Domestic Conference log, which serves as the domestic competition.
  • At the end of the season the top team per First Division conference as well as the next three on the First Division combined log play off for semi final spots (same as the current play-offs). Alternatively the semis can be simply be played by the top 4 teams per devision, irrespective of conference.
  • There is no prize or trophy for topping the Second Division logs except to get an opportunity to play for promotion or an automatic promotion relegation can take place.
  • The bottom team per conference on the First Division log play promotion/relegation matches against the top team per conference on the Second Divsion log, if there is not automatic promotion/relegation.
  • The top 4 teams on the Domestic Conference log plays off for the Domestic Conference title.
  • All matches are broadcast and all teams share equally in the broadcast fees irrespective of division.
  • SA conference can serve as Currie Cup Premier Division.
  • Australia still has their “domestic” competition.

Example based on 2012 logs

First Division:

Australian Conference

New Zealand Conference

South African Conference

Second Division:

Australian Conference
Western Force
Argentinian team

New Zealand Conference
Pacific Islands

South African Conference

Interconference games per team: 6
Derbies x2: 10

Total regular season matches per team: 16

(Note: This article was originally published on my old blog in Feb 2012)

Local Derbies:

A lot of people complain about the local derbies but the fact is, they bring in the numbers, especially games against the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers:

Ave: 33562
Derbies: 38165

Free State:
Ave: 19244
Derbies: 22628

Ellis Park:
Ave: 23313
Derbies: 31568

King’s Park:
Ave: 26210
Derbies: 24271

Ave: 41919
Derbies: 45295

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by Baylion

The Kings in trouble?

March 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

No comment necessary

SARU appointed “a judicial sub-committee will investigate the allegation that the Kings breached Saru’s Super Rugby participation agreement by fielding more than two foreigners against the Chiefs.

According to a Saru press release, in the event of a breach being proved there is a wide range of sanctions available, starting from a caution to a maximum fine of R1-million or a recommendation to the General Council to suspend or expel the offending organisation.

Saru CEO Jurie Roux contacted Kings chairman Cheeky Watson on Tuesday to advise him of the inquiry and caution him against any potential breaches.”
Kings face sanctions

Why is this only being addressed now? This issue has been in the media ever since the Kings named all their foreign players in their extended squad.

According to Beeld this morning a Kings insider claimed that SARU had encouraged the Kings to sign the Argentinians as the IRB and SARU are looking to strengthen Argentinian rugby and based on this they don’t regard these players as “foreign” players.

Typically SARU kept quiet and hoped the issue will fix itself while the Kings “interpreted” the rules the way they want to.

This matter should never have reached this point and wouldn’t have if SARU got their heads out of the sand.

Update: Watson: Pumas are not ‘foreigners’

Watson said: “In the process leading up to the signing of foreign players last year, we were led to believe and even encouraged to sign Argentinean players – who currently participate in the Vodacom Cup as the Pampas – with the understanding that they would not be considered as foreign players, in the same way as Daniel Adongo, who is from Kenya, is not considered a foreign player.
Watson: Pumas are not ‘foreigners’


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by Baylion

The incompetence of SARU

January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

SARU, fronted by Oregan Hoskins and Jurie Roux, takes the brunt of the criticism but in the end the decisions are made by the administrators of South Africa’s 14 provincial unions. and with their ham-handed and soft-cocked handling of the Kings entry into Super Rugby SARU and South Africa’s provincial rugby administrators have created a toxic environment where two franchises, the Lions and the Kings, are on a hiding to nothing.

SARU, and SA’s provincial administrators, by springing the Kings’ inclusion in Super Rugby without a clear process of how it will be done, allowed for the the issue to drag on for seven months in the search for meaningless alternative solutions, solutions that were never going to be considered or put to a vote.

And in the end the Kings were left with insufficient time to put together a competitive squad while the Lions were summarily dumped without a safety net, financial or otherwise. The result is that the Kings, with only one year to prove themselves, have to take on the might of Southern Hemisphere rugby with a squad ill-suited for the task while the Lions were put back to pre-2010, losing more that 20 players who would have formed the backbone of their team in 2013, and are now forced into another rebuilding process.

Financially both franchises are sucking the hind tit too. While both the Lions and the Kings will receive their share of the Super Rugby TV monies the Kings can only promise potential sponsors a one year guarantee while the Lions sponsors are left with less than they bargained for and deals had to be renegotiated.

Looking to the future, with no guarantee of participating in Super Rugby in 2014 the Kings still cannot offer players more than partial contracts while the Lions cannot really start renegotiating contracts with current players until after the Wooden Spoon Knockout game in August with the result that 2014, for whichever team wins through, the situation will hardly be any better.

The Kings and the Lions administrators are not exempt of blame either.

The Kings have been receiving their share of the Super Rugby TV Pot o’ Gold since 2009 already. They could have prepared themselves better by at least getting into and becoming competitive in the Currie Cup Premier Division. There is really no excuse for them to have languished in the First Division.

The Lions, on the other hand, were naive, especially during the 2012 Super Rugby season. The goal should have been not to end last of the SA teams, simple as that. I said it in a previous post, the Lions tactics during the 2012 Super Rugby, where they ignored points on the board through penalties in order to try and score tries, were counter productive. Winning, even winning ugly, should have been their focus.

In the end South Africa’s provincial rugby administrators, including those of the Kings and the Lions must shoulder the blame for the vitriolic them vs us atmosphere that is currently prevalent amongst SA’s rugby supporters. Supporters are currently sharply divided into pro-Kings and anti-Kings camps and, going by the comments on various online sites and forums, there are very few taking the middle ground. This just cannot be good for SA rugby.

With the Super Rugby season at hand the Kings will be hard-pressed to win a few games and not to end last of the SA teams while the Lions, through the Wooden Spoon Knockouts Preparation Programme they put together without any assistance from SARU, will hope to rebuild a team that can at least get them back into Super Rugby in 2014, which they will have to take on, once again, with a young team of rookies.

South Africa’s rugby administrator really didn’t think this one through or, if they did, they didn’t really care what the implications were.

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by Baylion

And the nominations are!

October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

SARU has announced it’s awards nominees for 2012. My choices indicated.

The nominees for 2012 are (in alphabetical order):

SARU Rugby Player of the Year:
1. Keegan Daniel
2. Eben Etzebeth – Yes
3. Bryan Habana
4. Pat Lambie
5. JP Pietersen

Young Player of the Year:
1. Marcell Coetzee
2. Eben Etzebeth – Yes
3. Johan Goosen
4. Elton Jantjies
5. Raymond Rhule

Absa Team of the Year:
1. Eastern Province Kings (Absa Currie Cup First Division)
2. The Sharks (Vodacom Super Rugby)
3. The Sharks (Absa Currie Cup)
4. South Africa Under-20 (IRB Junior World Championship) – Yes
5. DHL Stormers (Vodacom Super Rugby)

Absa Coach of the Year:
1. Allister Coetzee (DHL Stormers and Western Province)
2. Pote Human (GWK Griquas)
3. John Plumtree (The Sharks) – Yes
4. Alan Solomons (EP Kings)
5. Dawie Theron (SA Under-20)

Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year:
1. Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks)
2. Keegan Daniel (The Sharks)
3. Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks)
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers) – Yes
5. JP Pietersen (The Sharks)

Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year:
1. Deon Fourie (DHL Western Province)
2. JC Janse van Rensburg (MTN Golden Lions)
3. Elton Jantjies (MTN Golden Lions)
4. Louis Ludik (The Sharks)
5. Raymond Rhule (Toyota Free State Cheetahs) – Yes

Absa Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year:
1. Hansie Graaff (Griffons)
2. JW Jonker (Ford Pumas)
3. Rudi Mathee (Ford Pumas)
4. Paul Perez (EP Kings)
5. Luke Watson (EP Kings) – Yes

Vodacom Cup Player of the Year:
1. Marcel Brache (DHL Western Province)
2. Demetri Catrakilis (DHL Western Province) – Yes
3. Jaco Kriel (MTN Golden Lions)
4. Gouws Prinsloo (Sharks XV)
5. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls)

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by Baylion

Friday Snippets

October 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s been a week of contracts canceled and contracts renewed, a week of confirmations and denials, a week of lies and lies exposed. It has been another week where SARU’s lack of leadership shone in its absence.

At the Boks:

Heyneke Meyer resisted the temptation to recall Morne Steyn after another woeful kicking display by the Bok goal kickers and pleased most by sticking with the same team for the All Blacks test.

Johan Goosen was declared fit to kick on Saturday and hopefully kicking is like riding a bicycle.

About the Currie Cup:

Amid new of players leaving, rumours of players leaving and Bok call ups the Lions continues to soldier on and still tops the log prompting one bordie on Planet Rugby Forum to ask: “WTF still motivates these guys?”

At the same time the Blue Bulls possible involvement in a promotion/relegation contest has been the talk of forums and blogs.

At the Lions:

A mixed week saw confirmation of players leaving and of players signing on with the union. Pat Cilliers and Michael Rhodes were released to move to the Stormers, a loan deal has been finalised for Franco van der Merwe with the Sharks and Jaco Taute, Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe will be on loan but deals have not been finalised.

But at least the well isn’t running dry as yet and a number of players are sticking with the Lions through tough times.

Stalwart flanker Derick Minnie has extended his contract with the Lions through 2014 and according to player agent Eduard Kelder’s tweet so did youngster Andries Coetzee after turning down Super Rugby offers.

A number of promising youngsters has signed new contracts or renewed contracts with the Lions for 2013 and 2014.

Of liars and cheats:

This week it came out that the Kings never approached the Lions to borrow or buy any of their players and that one of the Foreign Kings excuses used in their application to SARU to sign on more foreigners, that the Lions refused to release players to them, turned out to be a lie. And Watson’s response when caught in the lie? “I heard it on the grapevine”.

And the announcement of the signing of three players by the Kings hardly hit the Net when WTF tweets suggested that two of the signings were hardly done deals.

The Sounds of Silence:

Through all the struggles of the Lions trying to keep players and to set up competitive matches for next year and the Kings trying to sign any players of note SARU has been conspicuous in its silence.

Seriously, this whole thing has disaster written all over it and maybe it’s time for SARU to admit they screwed up and turn back the clock. I’m sure it’s not too late to ask the Lions if they will play Super Rugby next year.

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How John Mitchell Cost The Lions Their Spot

August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Lions have been kicked out of Super Rugby and a lot can be said about SARU blowing smoke for seven months about alternative options and proposals while all the while the decision had been made last year already to kick out the bottom team.

Would a different decision have been made if SARU made this known in January when they announced the Kings participation? Probably not, but by not being open and up front about it they have made life difficult for both the Lions and the Kings.

If they had spelt it out January the Lions would have had a clear idea of what they needed to achieve and the Kings would have been able to recruit better as their position would have been publicly assured. By blowing smoke for seven months SARU caused both franchises valuable time.

The fact that both franchises, as well as the rest of the country, were under the impression that nothing specific had been decided says a lot.

Based on the way they read the situation the Lions, and John Mitchell, made a serious tactical error.

Apart from the first game against the Cheetahs and the last few after Mitchell was suspended, the Lions played a game where they refused to kick for goal when they got penalties, even when they were behind. John Mitchell’s strategy was to go for tries even though the team struggled to score tries.

And their opponents knew this. Their opponents knew that they could infringe with impunity in their own half and not be punished provided they could stop the Lions from scoring tries because the Lions were not going to kick for goal.

Hind sight is 20/20 vision and with that hind sight:

Would John Mitchell have followed a different strategy if SARU had said in January: “The bottom SA team will fall out, no if or buts”? Probably.

Would the Lions still have ended last? Who knows.

Would the Lions still have been kicked out? Probably. I think this was on the cards since last year when SARU hoped that the Lions would go bankrupt and fade away.

So why did SARU not spell it out? Because if they did and, say, the Bulls ended last they would have had no room to manoeuvre.

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by Baylion

It’s not about Super Rugby

August 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week 11 of South Africa’s rugby unions, together with SARU, voted the Lions out of Super Rugby. While superficially this may seem a simple matter, it’s not.

Basically, these 11 unions, and SARU, said that SA rugby can do without the Golden Lions Rugby Union, their clubs, their junior rugby structures and their schools rugby structures. These 11 unions said that, compared to three minor unions who haven’t achieved anything of note in their entire existence, the GLRU is irrelevant.

Let’s face it, with their struggles over the last year or so, the chances of the GLRU surviving, financially once they lose their sponsors or competitively once they lose their best players, is minimal. But that’s what SA’s rugby unions and bosses decided they want – South African rugby without the Lions or any of their subordinate structures.

It is a difficult decision for me as a longtime Lions supporter to accept but reading the comments on many of the web sites it seems that most people are OK with it. They accept the fact that the politicians have taken over SA rugby.

Oh, they will complain when the Springbok emblem finally disappears in a year or to but they will accept that as well.

Let me tell you: any rugby supporter who accepts the way the Lions were stabbed in the back by the senior unions who promised their support (currently the only thing that is certain is that the Free State Rugby Union is one of the back stabbers but with only two unions voting for the Lions at least one of the Sharks, WP or Blue Bulls also stabbed us in the back), any supporter who continues to support these unions deserve it when the Springbok emblem disappears, they deserve it when the Springbok team includes players not selected on merit, they deserve everything they get in future.

The way I feel at the moment I will not be watching Super Rugby anymore, I will not support a Springbok team that includes players from unions that voted to kill off the Lions; in short, I will not support South African rugby.

I deleted my Baylion blog after SARU’s decision was known and later created this one but maybe that was a mistake. I gave it a lot of thought today, this whole issue is still too raw and maybe I need to take a break for a while.

But for the the moment:

Go Golden Lions!!!

Go All Blacks!!!

Edit: Having slept on it I think I will try and use this blog to get some closure, hopefully without out being too negative.