So the Currie Cup playoff match is over. The Cheetahs (Much to my relief) have secured their place in the much more competitive Currie Cup for next year after facing what must surely be the biggest laughing-stock of World Rugby. Last week the Cheetahs were missing 13 players including Springboks Heinrich Brussow, Coenie Oosthuizen and Johan Goosen, arguably three players that would walk into the Sharks or Stormers squads. Without these superstars and after the negative run of form, there was a slight level of concern in the Cheetahs fan-base The Kings had been in a great run of form winning the First Division without losing a game and emerging as 1 point victors in the final against the Puma’s. Although they were missing Darron Nell and Luke Watson, they were expecting to give the Cheetahs a tough game. Of course what we saw last week was a joke. The Free Staters romped to an 8 try win that was ridiculous for more reasons than one.
The first thing was that the Kings are a team who have prided themselves on transformation. One of the major messages for their inclusion in Super Rugby in the place of the Lions was that they are a team that would be transformation positive and would make a difference in the transformation terms for South African rugby. Their starting line-up last week said differently. The EP Kings starting 15 featured only one player of colour and he was a Samoan. The Cheetahs, from the very Afrikaans Bloemfontein, were more transformed with Raymond Ruhle in the starting line up.
Okay, the Kings will be strengthened with the 6 or 7 signings, including two-try-scoring centre Andries Strauss, but in all honesty, they could not compete with by any distance with South Africa’s weakest other Super Franchise. Again it should be reminded that if the Cheetahs were able to call on Coenie, Heinrich and Johan they may well have knocked 100 last week.
This week saw a much improved performance by the Kings in terms of defense, but playing against a Cheetahs side weakened further with the withdrawal of the Strauss cousins and the brilliant Labuschagne. The Kings defended well to begin tonight but were, in my view at least, fortunate to not see any cards early on as I can remember four tackles made with no arms. The kind of tackles that will see players facing sanctions in SupeRugby next year. Oelschig sore red for a punch that was a touch harsh, but if you throw a punch, you will get punished.
The discipline and ability of the Kings is far from the standard that it will need to be to compete next year in SupeRugby and SARU must surely take the blame for that. The Lions should have been given an opportunity to defend their place because as it stands, the Kings will even give the Aussie sides a run in being the worst. Cheeky Watson is not concerned about development and future of the EP game, he is caring for bank balance and there is simply one thing left to say to him. You must be Jo-“King”