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Where To Now, Lions?

August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

As it stands, or at least as it is known, the Lions are out of Super Rugby without any alternative competition available and financially they will take a knock, something they can ill afford in their current financial position, while their players will be in limbo.

While they apparently will still get a share of the Super Rugby TV monies, the same as the Kings shared in the Super Rugby monies since 2009, one can accept that their sponsorships will be affected as the Super Rugby portions of the sponsorships fall away and others, such as the Coca Cola stadium sponsorship, are renegotiated.

And SARU has yet to decide whether they will provide the Lions with a parachute payment.

So where does this leave the Lions? Well, for the moment all they have to look forward to during the first half of next year is playing in the Vodacom Cup and that will not be sufficient to earn sufficient monies to pay the bills.

1 Loaning players to other franchises

While a number of players’ contracts expire this year the majority of the Lions senior players still have contracts until 2013 or later. One can accept that players whose contracts expire – James, Maku, Adriaanse, etc. – will look elsewhere. Other players will be in demand from other unions and WP has already indicated that they would like to have Pat Cilliers and Elton Jantjies. But not all the players will be in demand, newer players like Ruan Combrinck, the Cronje bros, the Moolman bros may have to settle for Vodacom Cup rugby with the Lions while other players with close personal or business ties to Joburg, such as Baywatch and Minnie, may decide not to move to another union.

Whether the Lions loan their players to other unions will depend on what alternatives they are looking at.

2. Alternative competitions

NH Leagues:
There has been suggestions that the Lions should look at the Northern Hemisphere competitions but that’s not a simple matter as some of these competitions already start while the Currie Cup is still being played. And why would the RFU or FFR agree to include the bottom Super Rugby side in one of their competitions, especially if it means that one of their own needs to fall out?

Alternative cups competitions:
There has been some suggestion from SARU that they are looking at getting the Lions into some existing competitions such as the Pacific Cup or the Nations Cup however these competitions are played over a two week period so it still leaves the Lions with another 14 week to fill.

Alternate Super competition:
A while ago there was a suggestion of an alternative competition to be set up involving the Americas but it seems that this was merely a suggestion, not something that was actually happening.

Informal series:
Any number of informal series could be arranged involving representative teams from the lesser rugby nations such as USA, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Spain, Uruguay – countries ranked between 15 and 25 on the IRB rankings. These teams could be national sides playing under a more informal guise or even invitational sides made up from the best available players from different countries.

A Fourth Conference:
Australia and New Zealand are keen to get the Pacific Islands, Japan and the Americas into Super Rugby. This may be an ideal time to start a fourth conference, albeit informal, involving these nations and which can eventually form a fourth conference or a second tier to Super Rugby.

These alternatives are not without their problems, not least the funding as tv revenues may not be forthcoming. These games would also have to fit in with the various club and national schedules.

While none of these options are ideal the Lions will need some form of competition for in case SARU sticks to its word and actually arranges a play-off against the bottom SA Super Rugby side.

5 responses to Where To Now, Lions?

  1. I believe there is not enough time to organize any meaningful tournament.

    To my mind the best thing for the Lions to do is loan their most expensive players to other unions for the duration of the S15.

    That way they do not have to pay the players salaries and also do not lose the players in the long run.

    As you said most top players are still contracted untill 2013 and beyond. So as long as the Lions can pay them they can not opt out of their contracts.

    • I see WP is hoping to get a number of players – Cilliers, Jantjies, Taute?

      I agree that to arrange a structure tournament is out of the question but the Vodacom Cup finishes end April – mid May already and even if we loan out some players it won’t be all and those staying must have competition. They cannot sit out in the cold for 4 months and then be expected to jump into a knock out match, if that ever happens. So matches should be arrange which could be a precursor for an expanded Super Rugby in future

    • The fact is that for the next three years one of the SA franchises is going to sit out every year, whether there are play-offs or not. While it may be short notice for next year to put something solid in place (which should have been done years ago to accommodate the Kings in the past) by setting up an interim and informal competition in conjunction with SANZAR paves the way for 2016.

      • Good point. They might aswell start something for the next few years.
        On WP maybe that is why they and the Bulls voted with the Lions. Now the Lions may loan some of their players to them? :)
        I doubt the Lions will loan any player to the Kings or Cheetahs.

        • I’m sure the Lions wouldn’t want to loan players to their “enemies” but it will depend on the offers each player gets.

          Interesting thought: if we lend the Kings a number of players, who do they play for in the play-offs next year? The Lions or the Kings?

          Mmm, maybe that’s the way to go; lend them the players but pull them at play-off time.

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