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Ken Borland


Bravely entering a new world is paying off for SA Rugby

Posted on June 21, 2022 by Ken

When SA Rugby bravely shifted away from their long-standing relationship with Sanzaar and SuperRugby and decided to throw in their lot with European club competition, there was plenty of uncertainty as to just how well the move would pan out.

Now, with the United Rugby Championship in its final weekend of round-robin action and three South African sides in the quarterfinals already, one can only say it has been a great success.

It’s been a tremendous journey for the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls, and even the Lions have shown their worth in being way more competitive than many expected. The tentative first steps into the URC were made when the country was still in the grips of Covid restrictions, the franchises were without their Springboks and they had to start their campaigns in Europe in the northern hemisphere autumn.

It was a chastening introduction and there were understandable fears over whether SA Rugby had made the right decision. Wiser heads pointed to the circumstances above and pleaded patience.

And how richly that patience has been rewarded with the four South African teams tenaciously dominating the second half of the competition, making their home stadiums fortresses and producing some thrilling rugby in the process.

Of all the sports in South Africa, rugby has probably borne the brunt of Covid, given how they were the code which was most accustomed to having big crowds in stadiums.

With at least one URC home quarterfinal guaranteed, wouldn’t it be marvellous for that team/s to have the backing of a properly sold-out stadium?

SA Rugby have been patience personified when it comes to working with government and their time-lines in terms of Covid protocols. But having seen the British and Irish Lions tour almost ruined last year, one totally understands their frustration at how slowly the wheels are now turning to get spectators fully back into stadiums.

If only Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa was as preoccupied with something that really will contribute to the economy, rather than that stupid monumental flag of his.

You always see politicians front and centre, ensuring they are in the limelight, when our sports teams enjoy global success. They piggyback so hard on the triumphs that you cannot help but wonder whether they believe they played an integral part in achieving the result.

The truth, of course, is that politicians do very little for sport in this country. You only need to look at facilities, especially at grassroots level, to see that. And yet they bask in the nation-building and social cohesion that sporting success brings, as if they had a key role in ensuring those outcomes. It is just another example of the parasitic tendencies of our politicians.

But even without capacity crowds in South Africa just yet, one feels the URC will go from strength-to-strength.

On the last weekend of round-robin play, defending champions Leinster are guaranteed to finish first on the log, but little else is certain. A team like the Bulls, depending on the results, could either finish second or seventh in the final standings.

And playing in the European Champions Cup next season will only heighten the hype here in South Africa.

Given the steady flow of South Africans to those teams, there has always been great interest in the English and French clubs and now those powerhouses will be coming to these shores as well.

SA Rugby are sure to see the vindication of their brave move in the years to come, as aligning with the major economies of the rugby world will bring an even greater profile to South African rugby.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.



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