‘Have the balls to stand up to these dinosaurs’

Tony McKeever, CEO of the Spears, has furiously called on Saru president Brian van Rooyen not to amend a President’s Council decision that would see the Eastern Cape franchise replace the lowest-placed South African side in next year’s Super 14.

McKeever reacted with indignation upon hearing that the five current franchises have formed a coalition in an attempt to thwart the Spears’ inclusion in the competition.

“I cannot believe what I am hearing. Their presidents agreed to this and they are not in a position to renege on the decision taken by the President’s Council,” McKeever fumed in the Cape Argus.

“It is nauseating for them to say we are poaching players. They have been taking ours for years and alienating themselves as real dinosaurs for the good of South African rugby.

“This document that has been tabled for (today) was agreed in principle and they cannot now just turn around and sing a different tune. We have already assembled a squad, we went out and found a R15m sponsor (sports clothing firm ISC) and we have set up a PE base.

“It’s now up to SA Rugby to have the balls to stand up to these dinosaurs and for Brian van Rooyen to put his foot down,” said McKeever.

Meanwhile the Argus quotes an unnamed source in one of the five franchise’s administration, reflecting the anti-Spears sentiment that has descended on the rest of the country following their series of heavy defeats in pre-season warm ups.

“It’s ridiculous that the Spears, who are clearly not yet even ready to be competitive in the Currie Cup, can just walk into next year’s Super 14 at the expense of one of the other sides,” said one top rugby official, on condition of anonymity.

“Besides the fact that they are poaching our Under-21s when they pledged to develop local talent from the Southern Cape region. In their friendlies they played few black players from their own areas.”

Another top rugby administrator described the decision to give the Spears Super 14 status as both “premature and ridiculous”.

“Nowhere in sport would you find a team punching so far above their weight. Before they are even considered for the Super 14, they should prove that they can be competitive in the Currie Cup. We could end up with a situation where the Spears finish sixth or seventh in the Currie Cup but still get to play in the Super 14.”

“That means that not only would one of us (the Big Five) have to make way for the Spears, but we would also have to hand over players whose salaries we pay and are on our books. There is no way we can accept this.”