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Watson puts pressure on SA Govt. for Super15

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Eastern Province rugby boss Cheeky Watson and father of Luke Watson on Wednesday urged Sport and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile to intervene and ensure the “Super15 franchise” issue is on the agenda for an upcoming Sanzar meeting.


The South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby unions (Sanzar) are scheduled to meet in Dubai on March 4 during the Dubai rugby World cup sevens tournament.


Watson was briefing the National Assembly’s sport and recreation committee on a new Eastern Cape rugby franchise to be launched on June 16, which he said was even more important than the 2015 Rugby World Cup the South African Rugby Union (Saru) was bidding for.


Watson said he was not sure of Saru’s commitment on the issue.


“We make no apology that this is a black African franchise that’s going to be launched on June the 16th,” he said.


“This is a franchise that’s going to touch every single corner of South Africa.


“And I really think that this is something that is going to impact and really change the face of South African rugby like never ever before,” he said.


“And I think we’ve got to realise that there are one or two people who will stand in the way, but we’ve got to push this thing through, we’ve got to make this thing successful and make this thing happen.


“And I really think comrade chair, I make an appeal to you that the honourable minister, there’s a Sanzar meeting on the fourth of March in Dubai, where the honourable minister needs to get hold of [Saru President Oregan] Hoskins and [Saru MD Andy] Marinos and stress upon them that the Super15 franchise be on the agenda at that meeting, because I know your commitment and I know government’s commitment on this issue, but I’m not 100 percent sure about Saru’s commitment on this issue.”


Committee chairman Butana Komphela replied that the committee resolved to send a letter to the minister to highlight the “plight of the meeting” in Dubai.


Elaborating on a presentation document handed out to committee members, but which he declined to make available to the media, Watson said if one looked at the franchise’s logo, “it is very much African”.


“If you look at the whole design and the launch of this franchise, it is very much African.


“If you take the logo and compare the logo to the rest of the logos in the Super 14 arena, this logo sticks out like a sore thumb.


“It incorporates over 500 years of history in the Eastern Cape. It encapsulates transformation like transformation has never been encapsulated, and it takes us as the Eastern Cape people, and places our heritage, our culture, our history in the forefronts of the world,” he said.


“This comes from the history and the culture of the people of the Eastern Cape.”


After quoting from the Bible, Watson said “now is the time to deliver this franchise. Now is the time to launch this franchise”.


“And I think from our side, we’re not going to compromise, we’re not going to stand back, we’re not going to make excuses about raising a black African franchise.


“Once the Eastern Cape and the franchise rises out of the Nelson Mandela Bay metropole, it’s going to infect in a positive way the rest of South Africa and the face of rugby will never be the same.


“And this is why this franchise in my opinion is more important than the World Cup [bid] that they’re [Saru] trying to solicit government support for,” Watson said.


Komphela made it clear that he, the African National Congress and government fully supported Saru’s world cup bid.

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