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Stop these SANZAR bullies

The South African Rugby Union find themselves at a crossroads in the Super Rugby saga. It is now time that they show some backbone.

In various media statements about the expansion of Super Rugby to Asia, a few important facts were lost in the hype.

Before we get too excited about the new 'world' we are going to enter into (the expansion to Asia), we should rather look at the facts.

What I want to know is how the Asian team is supposed to be of benefit to the South African conference, given that it will form part of this group?

I only see disadvantages.

I certainly can not see that this new direction we are taking (the new team) can contribute positively to the benefit of player welfare!

The most important fact is that the 18th team – which will play out of Singapore or Japan – will remain in the Australasian time zone. How does this help South Africa – given the franchise will form part of the SA conference?

Japan is seven hours ahead of SA – right in the middle of the Australian West Coast (six hours) and East Coast (eight hours). Singapore is six hours ahead of SA (same as the Australian West Coast).

But rather it is the additional travel time that should be a major cause for concern. The Aussies and Kiwis will definitely travel less, because they will not visit SA as frequently as before.

Remember, SA teams currently travel for a month, once a season, to Australasia. This means a team will travel between 11 hours and 18 hours, depending in where their final destiny is – Perth (plus-minus 11 hours), Sydney (+- 15 hours) and Auckland (+- 18 hours). Then, of course, you travel every week to a different destination for games.

If the new team is to play out of Singapore (if reports are true, it will consists of a bunch of players from the Pacific Islands), South African teams will complete the 9223 kilometres in around 12 hours. The flight time is calculated based on a straight line – or 'as the crow flies'.

In order to travel to Japan, you can almost double the flight time – the 13,891 kilometres will take at least 18 hours, although some flights to Japan take up to 22 hours.

Now take into account that the SA teams will also be required to travel about 11 hours when completing the 7694 kilometres to Argentina – as that country also has a team in the SA conference.

When you start making the sums, only then do you realize who the real winners are … and they are certainly not the SA teams.

It is no secret that the selfish bullies from Australia have been enforcing their will and wishes on SARU for years. I certainly will not be very popular at the SARU headquarters in the luxurious Tygerberg Park near Cape Town, but they appear to be lily-livered.

William Pulver, the Australian Rugby Union's Chief Executive Officer, has been sticking his tongue out at SARU for some time. Like a spoiled brat he always gets what he wants.

As was the case when the Melbourne Rebels were selected ahead of the Southern Kings, because that made better financial sense, so did Asia get the 18th team because the Aussies threw their proverbial toys out of the cot.

Now it is being hinted that Japan is a better option than Singapore, because there is more money, and it is important for the development and expansion of the game. It is also being pointed out that with Japan hosting the 2019 World Cup, it is important that country gets the 18th team.

Even the former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones has come out publicly in favour of Japan as being a better option. It is obvious that because he is Japan's national team coach, his loyalty is currently in Japan. And he also still has an axe to grind with SARU, because they declined to give him a Springbok blazer after he helped SA win the 2007 World Cup.

Add to that the latest comments from Australia, where it was widely reported that SANZAR's chiefs are putting too much pressure on the players and are testing the fans' patience. They believe that South African administrators are 'not worth the risk'.

Can you believe the audacity, they want to kick out the partner that brings in the largest share of their television revenue, just so that the Australasian conglomerate and their Asian accomplices can play alone?

Now I must ask SARU: 'How long will you tolerate this bullying?'

* By the way, the Aussies also boast how well their teams are doing this year in Super Rugby.

Maybe they should pause for a moment and perhaps look at where the most improvement came from.

The Perth-based team, the Western Force, have eight South African players and two SA coaches in their Super Rugby group. They just produced their best season ever.

The Waratahs, who topped the table at the end of the regular season, are clinging desperately to their South African import Jacques Potgieter. It is no coincidence that their best season in years has been accompanied by a brute from the Republic. They openly admit that he is worth his weight in gold and constantly sing his praises.

The Brumbies, who are also in the play-offs, have four South African players and a former SA Under-21 captain in their ranks.

The Rebels have a lot of players from Tonga, Samoa, Japan and even one from England, while the Reds – like their compatriots – rely heavily on the Pacific Islands and have even recruited a player from Ireland.

Then they have the audacity to tell SA that this country does not have enough players to support a sixth team.

Now I wonder just how strong this bunch's teams would have been if they were forced to only select Australians?

By Jan de Koning


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