Many years ago, while still at university, a few mates and I went to watch the first rugby team play a match against their bitter rivals. The first XV had an incredibly strong team that season, who dominated most of their opponents until that point.
The second team however, was a different story. To say they were absolutely hopeless would be an understatement. They were a bunch of out of shape, hapless no-hopers, who at times looked like they would rather fight than play rugby.
The irony is that they often received a lot of support. Whether it was because their blundering, clumsy rugby was at times entertaining or because it was the traditional curtain raiser to the First’s match was still debatable. After a severe drubbing in the opening half, it seemed like another crushing result was on the cards—but in a strange turn of events, the first XV took a break from their pre-match warm up and came to watch the second half.
It was like their skills were magically transferred into the dreadful second team mates who turned the game around and heroically won the match. The presence of a superior power cannot be underestimated here. A similar story could be linked to the MTN Golden Lions at the moment.
Despite all the boardroom drama, losing their coach and their place in Super Rugby, the reigning Currie Cup champions find themselves on top of the log after six rounds. From a team that practically couldn’t buy a win in the southern hemisphere’s toughest rugby competition, they have managed to put their misfortunes and hardships aside and somehow beat the country’s top rugby unions.
One of the most stand-out features for me is the presence of Kevin De Klerk. The former Transvaal stalwart - described by many as an incredibly tough man in his playing days - has continuously backed his team all the way.
Realising his union is in turmoil, de Klerk is working hard to ensure international competition for his players to make up for the lack of Super Rugby in 2013. The president has even started making appearances at team announcements and hardly ever shies away from a boardroom-themed question.
By no means am I suggesting that de Klerk’s presence has magically lifted the team to another playing level, however, the presence of the unions president at matches, practices and press conferences will do the world of good for the players’ confidence and belief. Instead of de Klerk sitting in his ivory tower, he has chosen to adopt a ‘hands on approach’ and get stuck in. He’s setting a wonderful example for other president’s around the country and perhaps around the world as well.
You are never above your team, instead, you are a part of the team.
Take a bow Kevin De Klerk.
Marc Lewis is an Eyewitness News reporter.