Perspective will empower our game

Keo, in his Business Day column, writes that more perspective and fewer promises of a new dawn will empower the South African game.

The rugby produced in this year’s expanded Vodacom Super 14 has been more grind than glitz. It has been a brand more consistent with Test rugby than basketball. Yet the complaints continue to flood in as critics attack a tournament that each week gets described as being not so super.

For a decade, the critics condemned the Super 12 because it was too much glitz and not enough grind.

Generally, there is very little perspective in our rugby media and even less accountability from those tasked with turning a bunch of letters into something resembling insight into the game on a weekly basis.

An example of this is the reporting on the Bulls. A week ago they were relegation candidates on the evidence of an 80th minute defeat against the Brumbies. This week they are championship material, thanks to victory against the Waratahs.

No wonder the rugby public is in a state of consistent confusion.

Perspective is something the South African game has always lacked when it comes to those who deliver the daily messages. One test win and the Boks are world beaters. One defeat and they are a disgrace. The archives are full of such reporting.

The rugby media in SA is as influential as the game’s administration.

Given this, the rugby media should be as accountable in delivering the news. If condemnation is due, then condemn and deliver the supporting argument. If applause is due, deliver the message with an equal sense of authority.

Friday’s national presidential election is another example of the lack of accountability. The very same people in the media who are applauding Oregan Hoskins’ appointment were the ones who drank a toast to Brian van Rooyen’s appointment two years ago.

The very same provincial presidents who raised a glass to Van Rooyen a year ago now tell the media that the game is once again safe from destruction.

Have these people no integrity? Have they no memory? Or is it those who report on the game who have little integrity and memory?

Hennie le Roux, one of the spokesmen of the South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA), was emphatic in his praise for Hoskins. The players, he said, supported the man and the game could move on.

The very same Le Roux and SARPA issued a letter of support for Van Rooyen two years ago and produced similar comments once he was elected.

Le Roux’s tired banter has to be put into perspective. It is now convenient and fashionable to talk of new dawns, but it is not accurate because there is nothing to support such a scenario.

Van Rooyen has been ousted and the next two years will indicate the wisdom of the vote. SA Rugby sponsors’ representative Ali Bacher described it as a new era for South African rugby.

What nonsense to raise such an expectation. How can there be talk of a new era when the administrative system in the South African game is flawed. How can this be a new era when those in the system have not moved on but in the past decade three presidents have?

Why not simply reserve the right to judge and give Hoskins his two years to deliver or die? Ah, that would be too sensible and just too logical for the game’s messengers. It would also be “so not South African rugby�.

Like Van Rooyen and the Bulls, Hoskins needs to understand he will be judged every week in the media as a relegation candidate or championship material. It is the South African way.

Which brings me back to the Super 14: this weekend showed competitiveness from our teams, but nothing more. We won one from five matches (and three of our teams played at home), Australia won none from four and New Zealand won five from five (with three of their teams playing away from home).

It puts into perspective our championship prospects, just like the history of rugby’s presidential tenures puts into perspective any misguided sense of euphoria two days after an election.