Luke Watson, contrary to reports, has not launched any form of attack on Afrikaners and the administration of South African rugby.
But he now knows that there will always be a divisive element aimed at destruction in South African rugby to further individual and provincial agendas. There will also be more attacks on his credibility this season as so many within rugby and associated with rugby disgustingly celebrate undermining the Kings’ debut season because of the South African Rugby Football Union’s disgraceful handling of the Lions-Kings Super Rugby participation.
Watson three years ago described South African rugby as a game run by ‘Dutchman’. He never shied away from having made the comment but at the time expressed disappointment that a private discussion had been reported to the media and so misrepresented within the media.
He left to play for English club Bath but returned to South Africa three years ago as part of a three-year contract to be a part of the Kings’ historical entry into Super Rugby. On his return he spoke officially of his regret at the comment, however informal the occasion, and spoke of his desire to make a contribution to a unified Eastern Province and South African rugby.
He apologised to those he said he may have offended and in the last three years has concentrated on the job at hand. For some that will never be good enough and Watson’s Super Rugby challenge will be made even tougher by continued efforts to undermine and misrepresent him from the field.
In a recent interview with 702 Talkback Radio Watson was again asked about his criticism of South African rugby three years ago. The ‘Dutchman’ remark was again highlighted and he was asked for an opinion on the administration of the game.
The player confirmed the remark he had made three years ago, added that he had dealt with it on his return and in relation to a question said South African rugby as a whole was still struggling to come to terms with transformation the equal of the society that reflects change in South Africa.
Transformation, he added, would always be an ongoing issue.
Media reports singled out Watson for saying the game was still being run by ‘Dutchmen’.
‘I have always taken accountability for how I have played and for what I have said. Where I have got it wrong or regretted an action or a comment I have always been prepared to make the necessary apology and I really thought that fronting the issue of what I said three years ago was dealt with three years ago,’ said Watson, adding: ‘It really disappoints me that an interview was so badly misrepresented and a comment of three years ago made the focus and given the appearance that I have again criticised a cultural element of South African rugby. I did not in a 702 Radio interview say the game in 2013 was still being run by Dutchmen and transformation, not just in a playing numbers, will and should always be a discussion and a debate because the purpose has to be to get the desired transformation as a country, not just in one particular sporting code.’
Watson told keo.co.za that just like the Lions players suffered as a result of the uncertainty in their Super Rugby participation, the players within the Southern Kings are representative of South Africa and that players did not decide policy or participation in tournaments.
‘Every bloke in the squad will give his everything for the Kings and by extension for South African rugby. We can only influence our actions but it is not made any easier with media misrepresentation on issues as sensitive as culture and provincialism in the South African game.
‘I learn and I learned from three years ago. All I can do set the record straight on the inaccuracy of the reports attributing remarks made three years ago to a recent radio interview.’
The Kings will play in the tournament for the first time this year but are not guaranteed an automatic second year. Participation in 2014 Super Rugby will be determined through league results.