The Golden Lions Rugby Union cancelled their U.S. tour against the North American All Stars just eight days before their first match in Irvine, CA. leaving a lot of folks, myself included, very upset. Their explanation only made matters worse.
Their press release is as follows:
GOLDEN LIONS RUGBY UNION REGRETTABLY CANCELS USA TOUR
Regrettably, the Golden Lions Rugby Union management, following consultation with the senior coaches, have taken the decision to no longer proceed with the MTN Lions’ intended tour to the United States of America.
This the unfortunate result of uncertainty regarding the quality of the opposition, accommodation and travel limitations, as well as increased cost aggravated by the weakening exchange rate.
The Union worked with an outside tour organiser to coordinate the Rugby Showdown tournament, which encompassed two matches to be played in California and Texas in mid-April.
Golden Lions Rugby Union CEO, Manie Booysen, expressed the Union’s sincerest apologies to supporters.
“We would like to apologise to all supporters and the players, staff and management who have been affected by the forced late cancellation of the American tour,” said Booysen.
“While we regret having to cancel the tour, we believe it is important to have the team’s travel and accommodation needs met.
“We were also concerned the level of competition that the MTN Lions would face abroad would not be of a strong enough standard.
Booysen, however, remains positive that new arrangements will be made for the team in the upcoming weeks.
“The GLRU management and senior coaches will endeavour to make alternate arrangements for the MTN Lions squad over the upcoming weeks,” he confirmed.
Wait. Quality of opposition? Did they really just say that? Because that’s the one thing that really jumps out at the reader. It would have been far more acceptable to say they cancelled due to financial concerns and leave it at that. Certainly anyone can understand a financial pinch. Instead, they decided to insult the North American All Stars and their fans by citing “…the quality of competition.” Not very savvy.
I was looking forward to seeing the Lions at their scheduled meet and greet at a favorite pub, the aptly named Springbok Bar and Grill, but that was before I realized they were such prima donnas. Okay. Maybe that’s not fair, but the gritty details of how the decision was made have been omitted from their press release. We fans are left to wonder exactly who was whining about poor competition and shoddy flights and hotel rooms. I thought these guys were supposed to be tough. I didn’t hear any All Stars complaining.
Fans who purchased tickets to the Rugby Showdown will have their tickets refunded, but what about the fans who bought airline tickets? Those tickets cannot be refunded.
This sends a terrible message to young people and fans new to the game. Rugby isn’t just about vicious tackles, bone-snapping scrums, and break-neck speed. It’s about respect, good-sportsmanship, and camaraderie. Does that not matter anymore?
Union CEO, Manie Booysan states that new arrangements will be made in the upcoming weeks, but who wants to make plans with a team that cannot honor its commitments? And who are they planning to compete against? Who will be able to meet their standards of quality? Mr. Booysan, maybe it’s time to find a new PR guy.