Despite triumphing 23-18 in the second-leg of the universally despised promotion-relegation saga with the Lions at Ellis Park, the men from Port Elizabeth missed out based on a mere points difference of two after all other determinants ended equal.
“Let’s call it as it is, at the very least this outcome is unsatisfactory,” said Solomons, who added that he wasn’t particularly enamoured with the officiating.
“This was a fantastic debut season for us. But we got the rough end of refereeing decisions and it cost us our Super Rugby status.”
While Solomons was philosophical over the fact that all the franchise could do is emulate the Lions in making the best of playing in the backwaters until next year’s eliminator, his moral argument over the loss of value of South African rugby’s transformation objectives is rather compelling.
“I watched the EP Kings game against the Valke on Friday. Five of the seven men on the bench were from the Eastern Cape. Eight out of starting 15 came out of our academy and nine of them are players of colour,” he noted.
“Since we truly kick-started our academy in 2011, 97% of our players are local. We don’t buy players. 65% of them are players of colour. Men who played in this game, Scott van Breda and Shane Gates, are both out of the academy. What is happening there is incredible.”
The message is clear.
“If we’re truly interested in transforming the game, the Eastern Cape has to be there. We always said this is a process and I looked at that Valke game and it gave me tremendous satisfaction. We need leadership now.”
It’s understood that some key players have already been courted with hooker Bandise Maku asking to be released from his contract to join the Bulls.