The saga involving the Southern Kings and Eastern Province rugby is turning into an embarrassment for SARU and another joke to the South African rugby fan. I had hoped that once the Kings were rightfully removed from Super Rugby we would see SARU work to make a more feasible and accepted form of promotion and relegation between the Currie Cup divisions. Now we hear more rumours of political interference trying to find the Kings a free ride into the Premier Division of the Currie Cup instead of earning their way like Griquas have.
One of the fundamental issues the Kings used to force their way into Super Rugby was to expose the Eastern Cape and locally based players to the competition. Instead, they purchased players from all over South Africa, from north of our borders as well as abroad. Further, expecting to be allowed to exceed the quota of foreign players allowed within the squad.
If the brains trust at SARU had chosen a system such as the top five teams of the Currie Cup Premier Division qualify for Super Rugby the following year, then allow these teams to contract players from the other unions, such as the Cheetahs with Griquas, I believe this system would be far more accepted and respected by the public. Using this method, Griquas, who have stayed in the top 6 since 2006, would have qualified for Super Rugby this year, having finished fifth last year. This method would be far more accepted than the political farce the Southern Kings inclusion became.
Had the Kings been made to follow this route, they would have been forced to focus on improving structures and player development, not buying a team. They would have the locally developed players available for Super Rugby and then would be able to mount a challenge on finishing in the top 5 of the Premier Division to qualify for Super Rugby.
Personally I believe the Currie Cup should remove the dual division system and revert back to one single league, each team plays the other 13 once, of which the top 5 would qualify for Super Rugby the following year. This would expose the smaller unions and players to a higher standard of rugby. SARU, let us see more focus on what benefits rugby in South Africa and not the politically and financially connected.