Bitter taste of success

The Kings won and lost on the same night in Johannesburg.

The Kings beat the Lions 23-18 in the second of the two Super Rugby play-off games, but lost their Super Rugby status by virtue of a two-point differential over 160 minutes of rugby.

It was a cruel ending to their one season in Super Rugby – a season in which they won three and drew one match. Those results made them the most successful franchise in a debut season since Super 12 was expanded to Super 14 and then Super 15.

The Lions won the first leg in Port Elizabeth 26-19 and the Kings won 23-18 at Ellis Park. Both teams scored four tries in both matches.

What the result showed that in rugby terms it is six of one and six of another as to who plays in Super Rugby.

What it also shows is that SARU have cocked up big time.

The Kings averaged 31 000 in crowd attendance in a season when only the Stormers (33 000) and Reds (31 500) averaged more.

The Bulls averaged 29 000 and the Sharks faithful numbered just 19 000.

When one looks at the bigger picture, SA Rugby has lost a great opportunity.

Those who argued that from a rugby perspective the Lions were a far greater presence in Super Rugby than the Kings have lost that argument on the basis of the two-match series being tied one all.

There is nothing to choose in the quality of the two teams.

The Lions, in front of 62 000 capacity crowd, lost to the team that finished last in this season’s Super Rugby.

It tells me all I need to know about what the Lions will offer in next season’s competition.

The Kings wouldn’t necessarily have offered more, but when both unions can contract players on a one-season basis only, both are in a no-win situation.

The Kings won today and lost. The Lions lost today and won. It about sums up the craziness of everything that has gone down between the Lions and the Kings.

Shame on you SARU.

Lions – Tries: Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Kings – Tries: Schalk Ferreira, Scott van Breda. Conversions: Van Breda (2). Penalties: Van Breda (3).

Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.

Kings – 15 SP Marais, 14 Scott van Breda, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Charl du Plessis, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Shane Gates.