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The Lions – making lemonade

January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

First, some good news: The Lions vs Russia match on 19 January at 19h00 will be broadcast LIVE on DSTV SS1 and SHD.

To quote Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”.

I’m not going to dwell on the negatives, suffice to say that after 2012 started with high hopes the Lions were knocked back by a poor Super Rugby season to be followed by being dumped from the competition by SARU and the South Africa rugby administrators.

As if that were not enough the Lions players and management didn’t do the team any favours by starting a legal battle they couldn’t finish when they tried to oust John Mitchell. After all the stories of player complaints apparently only two players turned up to give evidence, a serious indictment of the ringleaders in this drama, most of whom have now left for distant shores.

However, it was a year of triumphs as well, an incredibly successful season in some ways.

The most successful aspect of the Lions season is the fact that, after years of not producing any Springboks, they suddenly have seven players in the Springbok EOYT squad. Even though they may not all have been given time on the field it is clearly a sign that something had gone right amidst all the drama at the union.

The 2013 season now looms big before the Lions. Their enforced hiatus from Super Rugby has to be used productively to rebuild the team and the union into a competitive unit.

The Lions have schedule a full season of matches against non-traditional opponents starting with Russia on 19 January with a full season of Vodacom Cup matches thrown in. Come July 27 the Lions will have no excuses and when they play the first of the wooden spoon knock out matches, they should be match fit with at least 23 matches under the belt.

The big issues for the Lions will be how they not only develop new players to replace the 21 players who left during 2012, either in permanent moves, retirement or on loan to other franchises, but also how they manage their players to minimise injuries and fatigue. Losing in the wooden spoon playoffs due to too many injuries will be inexcusable.

While the Lions lost a number of key and first choice players they, surprisingly, retained a good core of senior players while signing a number of new players. These senior players, together with youngsters coming through and the new recruits, will have to pull the Lions through what promises to be a testing first semester.

The elephant in the room, however, remains John Mitchell. Will his presence as a consultant be beneficial or will it be disruptive?

The fixture list (including Vodacom Cup):

19-Jan-13 vs Russia @ Ellis Park
23-Jan-13 vs Cheetahs @ Ellis Park
2-Feb-13 vs Bulls @ Orlando Stadium
9-Feb-13 vs Kings @ Ellis Park
23 Feb-13 vs Namibia @ Windhoek, Namibia
2 March 2013 vs Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
9 March 2013 vs Griffons (Vodacom Cup)
16-Mar-13 vs Mont de Marsan @ Ellis Park
16 March 2013 vs Leopards (Vodacom Cup)
23 March 2013 vs Pumas (Vodacom Cup)
6 April 2013 vs Falcons (Vodacom Cup)
13-Apr-13 vs US Invitational in Irvine, CA, USA
20-Apr-13 vs US Invitational in Vancouver, Canada
20 April 2013 vs Limpopo (Vodacom Cup)
27- Apr-13 vs Chicago Lions @ Chicago, IL, USA
27 April 2013 vs Zimbabwe (Vodacom Cup)
11-May-13 vs Agen @ Ellis Park
11 May 2013 Vodacom Cup QF
18 May 2013 Vodacom Cup SF
25 May 2013 Vodacom Cup Final
1-Jun-13 vs Samoa @ Ellis Park
8-Jun-13 vs French Barbarians @ Ellis Park
15-Jun-13 vs Stormers @ Ellis Park
21-Jun-13 vs Sharks @ Ellis Park
12-Jul-13 vs Montpellier @ Ellis Park
20-Jul-13 vs Grenoble @ Ellis Park
27-Jul-13 Wooden Spoon Knockout away
3-Aug-13 Wooden Spoon Knockout @ Ellis Park

Extended squad (currently known):

Hookers:
Martin Bezuidenhout
Francois du Toit
Robbie Coetzee
Mark Pretorius u/21

Props:
JC Janse van Rensburg
CJ van der Linde
Ruan Dreyer
Jacques van Rooyen
Gideon Muller u/21
Jacques Kotze u/21

Locks:
Hendrik Roodt
Stephan Greeff
JJ Breet
Franco Mostert
Hugo Kloppers
Ruan Venter u/21

Loose forwards:
Derick Minnie
Jaco Kriel
Warren Whiteley
Willie Britz
Warwick Tecklenberg
Stephan de Witt u/21
Ruan Lerm u/21
Fabian Booysen u/21

Scrumhalves:
Michael Bondesio
Ross Cronje
Whestley Moolman
Vian van der Watt u/21

Flyhalves:
Marnitz Boshoff
Lionel Cronje
Guy Cronje
Marais Schmidt u/21

Centres:
Alwyn Hollenbach
Dylan Des Fountain
Bradley Moolman
Deon van Rensburg
Stokkies Hanekom
Robert du Bruyn

Wings:
Anthony Volmink
JR Esterhuizen
Deon Helberg
James Kamana

Fullbacks:
Andries Coetzee
Ruan Combrinck
Kobus de Kock

8 responses to The Lions – making lemonade

  1. Latest unconfirmed news (via Twitter) is tha Coca Cola hasn’t renewed their name sponsorship of Ellis Park valued between R9m and R12m p.a.

    The good news is that we can go back to Ellis Park, the bad news is that the GLRU will have to find the monies somewhere else.

    • I’m sure a sponsor will step in, Ellis Park is so rich in history that I cannot see no-one wanting to be associated with it.
      Good luck to the Lions this season. I really hope the make a success out of the shambles they find themselves in.

  2. A pretty decent team can be fielded from this group! Although disappointed that we don’t play S15, I am excited about the coming fixtures….

  3. Hi Bay,

    Compliments of the season.

    It is good that you guys are keeping busy, and I will find myself at Ellis Park on Wednesday the 23rd to at least see my team play once.

    Now if I want to see them play, I have to go to Loftus, and that is not a good option for anyone or anything not Blue Bull!

    • Thanks. The same to you and your family.

      Unfortunately the franchise matches will be more practice games for the franchises but could still be exciting. Hopefully Goosen doesn’t get injured before the season starts :)

  4. If they dont put at least 50 points on Russia i’m going to be heavily disappointed.

    • I would be happy with a win. The Lions have lost a lot of first choice players and those remaining will be slotting into new combinations – new hooker, lock combo, loosie combo, halfback combo, flyhalf, centre combo. Only the props and the back three have played together as combinations

  5. Go Lions. Pity they lost some players, but money talks. Sport career only lasts that long.

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