"Monstrous" Kings ship faces mountain
It will take a lot longer to turn the “monstrous ship” that is the EP Kings around than one year, Kings President Cheeky Watson claimed after the franchise was given the green light to participate in the 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby series.
Watson, who both welcomed the decision, then slammed SARU for only giving the Kings one year to prove themselves in the competition, said the decision was “ludicrous” as the Southern Cape had been neglected for “more than a decade” and now faced a mountain to climb to make an impact in the Southern Hemisphere competition.
Watson also fended off criticism of the franchise, created primarily to help the transformation of the game and give players of colour a chance in the Super Rugby competition, had very few of these, and were coached by two New Zealand coaches.
“What one has to realise is that we sit in a scenario where the majority of home grown players of colour are playing for other provinces. In the last decade none of the provinces in the area – not Border, EP or SWD have been linked to Super Rugby franchise and it is impossible to build. We’ve been sliding down a slippery hill and to turn this monstrous ship around will not happen overnight, it will take time,” Watson said.
“It is ludicrous this decision. It doesn’t make sense at all to only do it for one year. Other franchises have had years to build into units, but we have to do it in one year. It doesn’t make sense, not in business, not in church or society. We have one year to achieve but the South Eastern Cape will play the hand they are dealt.”
Watson criticised the SARU general council for taking eight months on a decision that was first confirmed in January this year, saying the franchise has already been hampered in terms of funds, sponsors and building a winning team.
“The problem was created when a decision wasn’t taken earlier. It has severely hampered our progress. We will be rowing our own boat. The whole of the Eastern Cape, from George to Mthata has faced tremendous challenges in the past and we have dealt with those challenges. This is just another challenge.
“The decision gives the Eastern Cape hope but we have been hampered tremendously and it will be difficult. The whole process hampered us and it hampered the Lions, especially in terms of sponsorships and people who wanted to get involved with the Kings. We now have a massive mountain to climb.”
Asked if the team didn’t have big shoes to fill in terms of matching the Lions, Watson joked “No, there aren’t many big shoes to fill.”
The team will now begin their recruiting process, with the Lions needing to fight to stave off an expected mass exodus of players following the decision. But for the Kings, they now are in the competition, and despite the hand they’ve been dealt, will need to meet the expectation they themselves helped create.