Super Rugby

Lions not bothered about north-south future, says coach Ivan van Rooyen

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Ivan van Rooyen. (Getty Images)
Ivan van Rooyen. (Getty Images)
  • The Lions aren't too bothered currently about which tournament they'll participate in in future.
  • Ivan van Rooyen, head coach, says his charges would love an opportunity to play Super Rugby again but a "fresh start" in Europe also sounds interesting.
  • The Currie Cup, where they want to establish a new culture and system, is the immediate priority.


South African rugby's great north-south debate isn't something the Lions are paying too much attention to at the moment.

Speculation is rife that the Covid-19 pandemic's re-alignment of the sport's future will mean that local franchises might have to go play in Europe, especially after New Zealand indicated they'd prefer Super Rugby's current form to be scrapped.

An expanded PRO14 is reportedly one of SA Rugby's more viable options though the slower conditions in the British Isles wouldn't ideally suit the Lions' style of play.

"That is stuff way above my pay grade," Ivan van Rooyen, head coach, told a panel discussion in the latest instalment of the Lions and Wits Sport's coaching webinar series.

"These uncertain times are exciting too. We've adopted the mindset that if we're fortunate enough to play Super Rugby again there'll be a lot of things that we need to fix. There are a lot of things that we still want to accomplish there."

That's an understandable sentiment as the franchise, before 2020's wobble, had been one of the most consistent sides in the tournament, notably reaching three consecutive finals between 2016 and 2018.

But new sights and surrounds in the northern hemisphere wouldn't be a bad thing for Van Rooyen and his charges.

"If it's a case of going north, it's an opportunity to start afresh, to learn almost a new way of playing, especially when it comes to your set-pieces and kicking game," he said.

"We need to grow so much still and need to stamp our own authority. To merely have a platform for us to do that is the immediate priority. Whatever platform (tournament) that is, there are a lot of important guys that need to make that decision."

For now, it's all about resuming contact training in preparation for a rather impromptu Currie Cup.

"We wouldn't bother participating or even waking up if we didn't have aspirations to win the tournament. There will always be the will to win," said Van Rooyen.

"But we're trying to simplify things, create our own legacy. We believe the results will look after itself if we set our own standards and maintain them."

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk 

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