The ANC's theatrics with the so-called white game continues. Playing politics with rugby union to shove one up the nose of whitey may work locally because we lack people with the balls to stand up and push back but that is not the case with our Kiwi and Aussie counterparts. If the ANC thinks it can dictate terms and expect our neighbours to tow along, they must think again. The other two are threatening to pull out of SANZAR and we will be the losers. Already a Pacific Super 10 contingency plan is in place in the eventuality that our idiots do not stop their nonsense.
If you see the composition of the team and those involved, you begin to understand the "urgency" of the matter, why the ANC is attempting to ram another SA team down the throats of the Super 14 competition. The new team will be predominantly black, Eastern Cape based, ANC xhosanostra-owned (of sorts), cronyism alive and well with ANC stalwart Cheeky Watson as co-owner and his boy, um, whatsisname...rhymes with puke..er...yeah Luke, as captain. As always, it is about a few elite enriching themselves at the expense of everybody else.
WOT's in a name, she sez, an' then she sighs and clasps her little 'ands and rolls her eyes, wondering what ever is to become of the SANZAR alliance.
OK, that's not quite how CJ Dennis penned the opening line to The Play, but bring him back to life, confront him with South African Rugby's decision to rename as the Southern Kings the SA Coastal XV to play the British and Irish Lions next month and maybe that's exactly how he might have written it.
Wot's in a name? Plenty when the Southern Kings is the name of the Eastern Cape team that is South Africa's candidate for the new team that will be created if Super 14 morphs into Super 15 when and if SANZAR ever stops tearing itself apart long enough to actually, you know, grow.
Trouble is, that's not how the renaming of the Coastal XV is being presented to the South African audience. There is no mention of the fact that SANZAR hasn't yet decided whether the expansion team is going to be the Southern Kings or, at the risk of being presumptuous myself, Melbourne. To read the South African reports, it's entirely a done deal.
The renaming was done "to fall into line with the launch of the new Eastern Cape Super franchise", with SA Rugby also indicating the coach "for the Super franchise" would be announced in July to enable him to contract players for the 2010 season.
And it can't be that some flunkey in SA Rugby's media department got carried away and enthusiastically overstepped the mark, not when the union's communique of April 23 is also taken into account.
"A committee has been established featuring major role players to manage the transition of the three South Eastern Cape provincial Unions into a Super Rugby franchise," the SA Rugby website announced.
The press release explained that the coaching appointment - with Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus and former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer the two favourites for the job - would be made early so the Southern Kings could get a team together in time for next year's Vodacom Cup as a hit-out to its entry into the expanded Super 15 in 2011.
"Obviously the key to the success of the project is dependent on funding and our commercial agents will be going out into the market to talk to corporate South Africa about this exciting proposition in a key area of rugby development," Mark Alexander, deputy president of the South African Rugby Union, is quoted as saying.
One would assume the "success of the project" would be dependent on the Southern Kings being granted the new licence, but of that small technicality there is not a mention.
These are bully-boy tactics unworthy of the reigning world champion in the sport. It's beyond provocative. It's brinksmanship. And by misleading the South African public, SA Rugby is deliberately preparing the soil for whatever drastic action it takes when/if Australia and New Zealand dig in their heels and refuse to be dictated to in this ridiculous fashion.
There is no doubt SA Rugby is a captive of the ANC and the South African Government when it comes to the admission of an Eastern Cape Super rugby team. A key figure in the Cape and reportedly a co-owner of the franchise pushing for the licence is Daniel "Cheeky" Watson, one of the white players to participate in mixed-race rugby and hence one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement.
When it comes to matters rugby, his is the voice the South African Government listens to, even though the wider South African rugby community regards him as a big-mouthed troublemaker.
Case in point, Watson's reported description of Springboks coach Peter de Villiers in a radio interview as "a baboon who doesn't know what he's doing". Apparently the two men had had a mild disagreement over de Villiers' hope of staging a Springbok Test in Soweto when Watson and other Eastern Province rugby legends believed it should be played instead in their backyard, Port Elizabeth.
One would have thought a hero of the anti-apartheid movement would have been delighted at the prospect of a Boks Test being played in the most infamous of black townships.
Whatever the history, the Government is pushing hard for the introduction of a (predominantly black) Eastern Cape Super rugby side - that just might be captained by Watson's equally controversial son, Luke, according to highly respected South African rugby journalist Sim Xabamisa.
The Government is pressuring SA Rugby, and now SA Rugby is pressuring its SANZAR partners. The question now, as the deadline for the June 30 SANZAR submission of a proposed rugby competition to broadcasters draws ever nearer, is how hard Australia and New Zealand will push back. And if they refuse to buckle to this intimidation and award the expansion franchise to Melbourne, will SA Rugby use that as the pretext for withdrawing its teams from the Super 14?
This petty episode reveals the way SA Rugby goes about negotiating prickly issues.
Of course, Australia is not above reproach. John O'Neill has himself played hardball and, like South Africa, adroitly uses the media to gain better leverage at the negotiating table. But, to date, he has never presented as a fait accompli something he knows SANZAR is a long way short of approving.
Wot's in a name? Wot's in a string o' words?
Trouble, that's wot. The Coastal XV by any other name - especially the Southern Kings - does not smell the same.