Boland Rugby recently announced an exciting and potentially very lucrative deal with the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS), a subsidiary of Remgro Limited, and a consortium comprising companies controlled by the Motsepe family (Motsepe Consortium). Now a lot of Cape locals are talking about the sky being the limit.
The term “URC” seems to be the one banded around the most and some believe the aim is to will achieve this status within two years.
But how can Boland possibly hope to be part of the United Rugby Championship in the short-term?
Obviously with the sort of partners they now have, money is unlikely to hold them back if/when it comes to acquiring decent pro players and getting better local pro rugby results. With the right marketing and ticket pricing they can probably attract a useful crowd to home games as well.
So what are the options to get really big, really quickly?
Well until a few months back, before the Capitec Bank family and partners bought into WP, the quickest way into the URC might have been to try force that union into a liquidation of sorts. That might have freed up the opportunity to acquire the Stormers, contract their players, rid the organisation of unwanted officials and secure a fairly seamless path to the URC in terms of the general public’s acceptance. However one would think that WP is a lot more financially secure now.
Personally my feeling about URC is that the Welsh clubs should reduce their participation from four to three clubs to be financially stronger and more competitive. This would be a way for the Cheetahs, who have paid their dues in SA, to get into that competition. Imagine the outcry if a situation arises where a place is made available and Boland somehow leapfrogs the Cheetahs. It would not go down well and might seem like political favour or other was prioritised above merit.
A possible URC expansion to 18 teams would allow the Cheetahs and one other to join. Not too sure the European teams would be thrilled about SA having such six representative teams but hypothetically if it were to happen, Boland getting the nod ahead of the Pumas, would cause a stir with negative press but would die down a lot quicker than Free State being shafted.
What about, forget the URC and try to get on board to a new competition that would fill a gap in world rugby and have the potential to grow into something on par with the URC. A compo with four South African provinces including the Griquas and Boland of course. Add the nations that impressed so much at the recent Rugby World Cup: Portugal, Uruguay, Chile as well as fairly strong Georgia, Spain and maybe try get an Argentine team and perhaps a couple from the US and Canada involved as well. That would be ground-breaking and could be a win-win for all who take part. Bonus is, it would not step on any toes nor get anyone’s back up about fairness.
The Cape grapevine is also speculating that a new local coach will be appointed to head up the Boland pro rugby ambition and that he may even come directly from a school rugby post. That would be awesome! SBR has so many talented and deserving of the opportunity coaches, who quite frankly have little opportunity to enter pro rugby arena or reach their full potential due to the absence of proper merit promotion or succession plans at the Unions.
From a school rugby perspective, the Winelands players did represented Boland at Craven Week towards the beginning of the millennium, but it was a short-lived marriage before the schools returned to the Western Province. All involved were probably happy. Boland has been a bit of an administrative and political mare at times plus which rugby-boys from the region would willingly give up the opportunity to wear the famous blue-hooped Province jersey in favour of a Boland one?
The school cricketers from Winelands still represent Boland at provincial level. Who knows with a well-organised, much improved, well-off Boland Rugby in place, perhaps the same schools will be easily persuaded to rejoin and create a potent title-challenging school rugby force at youth weeks.