Lardy Davids left Cape Town last year huffing and puffing that he’d been done a dirty by Western Province and the Stormers.
Sycophantic publications screamed racism, and Davids was quick to seize the opportunity to label Nick Mallett, Kobus van der Merwe and his coaching team as discriminatory. Racism, he said, was alive and well at Newlands.
In Gloucester he found a heavyweight club in the demanding English Premiership. He found a coach and management team that backed him. He spoke about the prestige of the club and his desire to prove his detractors wrong.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One of the key issues about signing Quinton is that he was prepared to prove himself. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a longer-term deal on the table for him if he can show what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth. We want people to be driven by performance, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m delighted that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got that attitude,Ã¢â‚¬? Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan gloated soon after Davids’ signing.
The words were backed up by action. Davids was hauled over a month earlier in order to get him fit. The shocking indictment that was a horrendously out of shape rugby player at the peak of South Africa’s domestic season was passed over, a fresh start was promised.
Away from the political turmoil that had shrouded his career, Lardy Davids wanted to be judged as a rugby player. Now he has been. Gloucester have played 13 games this season, Lardy has started two and come off the bench in one.
Gloucester purchased Davids because of a liability at lock. Adam Eustace (13 appearances) and Alex Brown (nine appearances) are not of international quality. They are solid club players, and they are deemed to be better than Davids.
Davids can no longer pull the race card, for to do so reveals the stark truth of his career. The colour of his skin did not deny him opportunity in South African rugby, the reality is it made a club player into a Springbok.
Davids sought to rid the disguise of colour, but all it revealed was a player filled with excuses. There is no accountability in Davids’ mind, and the countless coaches who have embarked to get the player into acceptable physical condition is the damning legacy of potential unfulfilled.
Davids played 37 times for the Stormers, where he felt he was not judged as a rugby player. At Gloucester he has been, and his 23% appearance rate is reflective of a player whose ability and attitude reflect the amateur he always should have been.