AUDIO: Struggles facing smaller South African Unions
REACTION: The Pumas head coach Jimmy Stonehouse revealed that his team financial state could have horrendous ramifications.
The Pumas suffered a narrow 37-38 defeat to the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Mpumalanga team relinquished a comfortable 37-21 lead as they conceded three unanswered tries in the last quarter of the match.
Despite their valiant efforts, head coach Stonehouse admit lack of depth particularly in the front row and defensive system were the difference.
“Our biggest problem was certainly our individual tackling which cost us.
“Having said that the effort that the Lions produced with coming back in the last 20 minutes was just amazing,” Stonehouse told reporters after the defeat.
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The coach also questioned some of the calls made by Rasta Rasivhenge and TMO Lesego Legoete, especially in regards to Madosh Tambwe’s third try which appeared to be short and the Rhyno Herbst late tackle in the second half.
Herbst already spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a dangerous clean on Kobus Marias in the first half, thus if Rasivhenge went to the pocket it would have been a second yellow and red card for him, an incident Stonehouse believed could have changed the dynamic of the game.
“Obviously for me it’s difficult, but I think Tambwe’s try was short. If you look at the replay you can see it is short and then also the added questions of was it a clear and obvious grounding. But that is the ref calls sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t.
“Nonetheless that was not my biggest concern, my main problem was the late tackle that should have been another yellow card to Lions lock [Herbts],” he added.
Aside from the on-field challenges, Stonehouse also revealed that the team’s financial state, in particular, their inability to attract sponsors could be the end of the smaller unions.
Stonehouse said that brands are not interested in sponsoring a team which only feature across six televised matches throughout the 2019 Currie Cup campaign – despite if the team is winning.
“When I started coaching, I thought that winning brings in money, but it does not people do not sponsor you because you are doing better, they sponsor because it is a name brand.
“Without sponsors, a lot of the smaller unions are dying,”
Stonehouse has a plan to attract sponsors to the Pumas and he says that this can be achieved by joining the Pro14 and revamping the Currie Cup in order to attract larger crowds and enhance the brand.
“I really hope that we can play in the Pro14, think is the only way how we can attract sponsors.
“I return to the Pumas because the plan is to join the Pro14 and I think as soon as you get into a big league somewhere people will sponsor, which will only be a good thing for SA Rugby,”
The Pumas’ next Currie Cup clash is against Supersport Challenge Cup champions Griquas in Kimberley.
By Josh Isaacson