Lions in the Super Rugby firing line

2012-05-12 19:08

With the SA Rugby Union (Saru) confirming its plan to relegate the last-placed Super Rugby franchise, the feline teams are in trouble. Either the Lions or the Cheetahs will be staring down the barrel come the end of the season.

On Friday Saru sent out a press release stating that the bottom-placed South African franchise (the Lions as it stands) will make way for the Southern Kings.

This comes in the wake of Blue Bulls company chief executive Barend van Graan telling City Press that he supports the inclusion of the Kings.

“The Bulls support the inclusion and are in favour of the Kings playing Super Rugby. We asked for a sixth franchise, but I don’t have enough information to go deeper into the issue,” he told City Press.

A Cheetahs official said their chief executive, Harold Verster, would not be able to comment because Saru still had to meet to discuss the issue on Thursday. Earlier this week though, Verster told Volksblad that to merge the Lions and the Cheetahs would present practical complications.

Lions coach John Mitchell has come out in favour of a merger. The sides were once united as the Golden Cats, then known as the Cats from 1998 to 2005. Both have taken turns at being the worst South African Super Rugby team, but this season the Lions have opened the gap by a comfortable margin.

The Johannesburg-based side looks likely to go down.

Besides the 2000 and 2001 seasons, when the Cats reached the then Super 12 semifinals under New Zealander Laurie Mains, they have failed to hit those heights, let alone come close to them. After those heady days, their highest position was 11th in the 2002 and 2005 seasons when they were given a hiding by both the Bulls and the Sharks.

At the time of writing, the Lions had 14 points from 10 games, leaving them stone last in both the South African and combined logs, whereas the Cheetahs had 26 points from the same number of games. The Cheetahs’ points tally does not take into consideration last night’s game against the Stormers.

SA Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Piet Heymans said Saru did not err in announcing a sixth Super Rugby team in light of the current broadcasting deal, which expires in 2015, but emphasised it would be difficult to say whether the Lions deserved to remain in Super Rugby.

“It is up to each of the three national rugby bodies making up Sanzar to determine their participants in the Super Rugby competition,” he told City Press.

“But it would be difficult to say whether they deserve their Super Rugby status because they have had numerous injuries that have affected their form and performance.”

Heymans said the fact that the Lions did not have many international players could help their cause, but added that sponsorship was a difficult factor to predict.

“Players such as Elton (Jantjies) and other young and upcoming players could be loaned to the EP Kings for the Super Rugby Competition period in 2013. Some players might not renew their contracts with the Lions for 2013 and will move to other unions,” Heymans said.

“I am not sure for how long some of the current sponsorship deals are for, and the terms and conditions

“However, the challenge will be to get the sponsors to support the team to regain their Super Rugby status after the 2013 Super Rugby Competition,” Heymans said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.