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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Super 14: 'Spears will certainly play Boks from the relegated franchise' - Tony McKeever

Tony McKeever, CEO of the Southern Spears, told RuggaWorld he does not seek players left redundant when one of the current five Super 14 franchises drops out of the competition next year. McKeever also rejected a promotion-relegation match as a compromise out of the impasse created by the Big Five's refusal to sign the agreement that was reached in June 2005.

In an exclusive interview with RuggaWorld the CEO said that he is aware of clause 10.1.10 in the June 8 agreement, which states that Springboks of the relegated franchise will be transferred to the Spears on the recommendation of the national Springbok coach Jake White.

McKeever reiterated that the Spears are not so much interested in the relegated players. He is however willing to accept the Springbok rugby players, if so requested by White.

"We believe in an equitable distribution of our top players in order to prepare them for the World Cup in 2007 and beyond," McKeever said.

He also rejected claims that South Africa does not have 180 first class players. "Take the Stormers as an example – they have four Springbok scrumhalves available. How much playing time will they get where they are? Is this an equitable distribution of resources, and is this in the interest of both the players and SA rugby?"

The CEO rejected the playing of a promotion-relegation match between the Spears and the franchise finishing bottom of the Super 14 log as a compromise and some kind of out, for the current impasse.

"A compromise from what? The President's Council signed off an agreement on the 8th June 2005 last year that was endorsed by the Minister of Sport. Everyone received a white paper giving them ample time to raise objections," McKeever told the rugby writer of the Cape Argus.

"For eight months there was no vociferous opposition. But suddenly, with the Big Five staring into Armageddon and a potential black hole, the Spears have to become the sacrificial lamb. It is outrageous."

After their meeting on Thursday SA Rugby released a statement saying it had been decided that the automatic promotion-relegation issue will be discussed further and referred to the Board of Directors of SA Rugby.
Clause 10.1.10 is in the Franchise Participation agreement NOT the 8th June Presidents Council Ruling.

This gives the National Coach the prerogative of relocating Springboks in a draft to a franchise, not necessarily the promoted franchise.

It is a great system where the National Coach can place Springbok players to maximise their skills.

Naturally to draft 6 Boks into a Spears squad gives phenomenal horsepower - what if we had that option for the first three games, how exciting would those games have been?

Still we will be patient.

What is scaring the daylights out of the other franchises is that in less than 90 days one of them is OUT.

Not too long to wait now for that result.
i think that clause is a win / win situation.

rugby, will benefit for a change, which is what i stated so many times with regards to this whole debacle.

personally what the ringheads decide i have no say or power over, but if the decision is done in teh interest of the game, and the game benefits, it will have my full support as i am sure it will have from supporters across SA.
Well at in the end it is Springbok rugby that needs to come first.

At least they got that one right.

How's the food in jail?

Met anyone nice yet?
hopefully he does not get inroduced to 'bubba'  
imagine that, does she look anything like our local blonde visitor?  
Bumped into Nancy. Won't believe me, she is actually a blond.  
More like Cruella de Ville  
btw, found a great pic to go with your new identity
Niiiiice. Thanks PA  
Tony, on a small poll Keo is running, something in the region of 70% think the 'Spears are a waste of time'.

Are you finding it more difficult to get the message across than you anticipated or is this exactly what you expected?

Personally I think the Spears greatest battle with public hearts and minds will be to show the differentiation between the 3 provinces and the franchise.

The 3 provinces are held in deep suspicion, especially Border and EP.

My feeling is that people are not seeing beyond the provinces to the real potential of the franchise.

In you they probably have the most skills-rich and energetic CEO in SA rugby. In De Villiers they have an enthusiastic coach. Don't know much about the rest of your personnel.

My personal opinion remains that SARU should have given the Spears the tools to first succeed in the Currie Cup, then qualify for the S14 on merit.

If that had taken 3 or 4 years then so be it.

SARU currently spend something like R5m to R6m for the President's Council budget annually and just what has the PC achieved except back stabbing, fighting, decisions that are subsequently reversed, protracted legal fees and one inquiry after another?

If SARU really wish to show they are transparent they should tell us how much they spend on legal fees per annum.

Anyway, I digress, what I'm trying to say is that the money is there for SARU to have financially supported the Spears in their quest to qualify on merit.

I'm all for a relegation/promotion system.
"My personal opinion remains that SARU should have given the Spears the tools to first succeed in the Currie Cup, then qualify for the S14 on merit."

I have to agree with you, and that is how it would have been done in a normal society, which we are unfortunately not.

Overall transformation is a necessity - it's the way in which it's done that is causing all the problems in every sphere. Rugby and the Spears are no exception.

I'm afraid that the almost total corruption and mismanegement that was (is?) a trademark of the three unions involved is uppermost in most minds - hence the negativity towards the Spears, which is in many ways actually a totally NEW concept with excellent leadership.

The right way - and I've believed this from the start - would have been to get Border, EP and SWD cleaned up and competitive in the CC before the formation of the franchise.

But that is water under the bridge now, and SARU has no option but to fully support the new franchise monetarily and otherwise. A turnaround on the agreement is just not on.
Ras, you make some valid points. However w.r.t the poll and general support, one must realize that a couple of regions are a bit nervous about relegation, therefor the majority of the people (and administrators) would rather prefer the status quo and not have the risk of them losing their status.

I agree with Tony, the point is that there was an agreement, nothing has changed that makes that agreement invalid. This is now how it should be. Obviously politics played a role when that agreement was made, but if politics did not play a role, then we still would have fielded 100% white teams, now because of political pressure we are more representative and most of them based on merit.

We must start asking the right question? What would be the best for SA Rugby within 5 to 10 years time. I do believe that if we can have a proffesional franchise (keep far, far away Stuurman & Joseph) coupled with the resources from SARU then they would not need three years to be competitive. PdV remarks was w.r.t the current team to mature. I see a couple of future Springboks coming from the Spears region, that would also boost representation on a national team without the quotas and therefor have a stronger team and can stay ahead our oposition for 80minutes and not 76minutes. This can happen in 5 years time. SA Rugby would be more representative, would be stronger, would be more competitive. Let's use the oppertunity that the Spears give us!

You make some interesting points.

As I've said previously, the die is cast, SARU made their decision and must now work overtime to ensure it's a success and win-win situation all round.

The question has to be asked, after making such an obviously politically motivated decision, what precisely have they done since to aid the Spears?

Have they (SARU) assisted the Spears with marketing?
Have they assisted the Spears by seconding personnel (at SARU's cost)?
Have they assisted the Spears by facilitating the support of any ex-Springboks originally from that area?
Have they assisted the Spears financially?
Have they assisted the Spears by opening doors to potential sponsors?

I hasten to add that I don't know the answer to any of those questions.

It would just be bitterly disappointing to learn that SARU forced through a politically expedient compromise, that hardly anyone outside the SEC wanted, and have subsequently not lifted a finger to help the fledgling franchise.

I remind you that the Force received A$5 million from the ARU in direct and indirect assistance, A$1.5 million from the West Australian government, A$20-odd million from the West Australian government to effect renovations to their stadium and have already signed up 20 000+ fans on season packages.

So, have the Cheetahs, and subsequently the Spears, been short changed by SARU?

Maybe we will never know the answer because SARU never tell us anything.

Another resolution from the Presidents Council meeting of the 8th June 2005 was that SA Rugby would financially assist the new franchise with the raising of sponsors.
That has yet to happen, although we did decline a bargain basement fire sale offer from two sponsors that horribly discounted the value of the franchise.
However, the good news is that SA Rugby is providing financial sustenance to our region, which is yet to be defined and will be for a limited time period and then we are entirely on our own - although I think that we will attract and retain corporate partners over a 3 year period.
This program of partner acquisition commences aggressively on Monday.
If it is sink or swim?
We are swimming right now, albeit with the sharks and piranha, but we are swimming.

Remember, the more unclear the water, the more difficult it is for them to hunt. :-)))

It won't be an easy ride but it will be a helluva ride.

Stick with it.

Let's hope the regional corporates start getting behind what has the opportunity to be a standard bearer for the region on the sporting field - The Southern Spears.
The Spears are a contrived political compromise and with no rugby justification to exist whatsoever. The sooner we introduce some sanity into the process and forget about the whole idea, the happier the majority of rugby supporters in this country will be.

To the Spears guys...sorry chaps, but you really have nothing to offer rugby in this country apart from some flowery words which, in the fullness of time, will be found out for the wonderously oblivious nonsense it is. Not since the days of Danie Gerber and Grizz Wylie have the EC region featutred as even a blip on the SA Rugby radar, and nothing is going to change now.

Please stop using the race issue to try and wangle your way into something you don't even understand, let alone deserve, and let the rest of us just get on with it. We have enough challenges within SA rugby without your lot stirring up the mud at the bottom of the pool.

Give yourselves a few years in the CC, and if you can string a few victories togother against the larger franchises, we can talk again, but trust me, if you go up against anyone of the overseas franchises as early as next year, they will utterly destroy you, and have a good laugh at SA rugby at the same time.

And that would be about the best you could hope for.

Think this thing through chaps, because right now you sound like a bunch of children in a toy shop who will jusy scream and scream until someone gives in and buys you what you want...because you sure have done nothing to earn it.

My dear friend, who ever you are, have just made one of the most moronic and dumbest statements about rugby.

Have you been hiding under a rock?

I suggest you pop down to your local Exclusive Books and hang out in the rugby section and educate yourself if you do not want to buy a book.

Or you can write to SA Rugby and ask them to send you a Rugby Annual, for free, whatever the year and update yourself on the facts.

For the rest just watch this space.
I think the Spears would have been a joke in the S14 mind you the other teams apart from the Bulls and Sharks are not that great either. Check out my blog at  
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