Tank Lanning believes Cheeky Watson has been unfairly asked to defend his “Too white” team to members of the portfolio committee on sport and recreation in parliament.
And to his credit, as reported on Sport24, Watson admitted that they are ashamed of the current racial demographics of the squad, and said he would make it his mission to correct the matter.
But why only the Kings? It’s not as if their team make up is massively different from the other franchises, who have had years to build their Super Rugby squads, while the Kings have had only months.
Yes the Kings should be about developing (or perhaps redeveloping) the Eastern Province as a rugby talent factory for both black and white players, but as union president Watson said in parliment, SARU’s constant postponement of the decision to award them Super Rugby status in 2013 led to a number of top black players opting against turning out for the Port Elizabeth-based side.
SARU’s decision to give the Kings Super Rugby status was only finalised in August last year.
Watson also has a valid point with regard to SARU only assuring them of one season in Super Rugby, and not three like previously promised, which cost them an investment partner.
It is patently unfair to expect the Kings to harness the player talent in the region after giving them such short notice, and only guaranteeing them just a year in the tournament.
Watson said the Kings were denied luring players such as Elton Jantjies (Stormers), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), Lionel Mapoe (Bulls), Akona Ndungane (Bulls) and Siya Kolisi (Stormers) to Port Elizabeth given the situation they find themselves in.
But the Kings should even have been looking to buy in black talent! It was always meant to be about using local talent to reinvent the region. And to do that, the Kings should have been granted an extended stay in the tournament with results being a secondary consideration.
It should have been SARU defending the fiasco in parliament, not the Kings!