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Lions Challenge – Hunting Bears

January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Lions Challenge jersey

Lions Challenge jersey – not sure what the designer tried to achieve

The Russian Bears is an unknown entity in our neck of the woods, which makes it difficult to evaluate how competitive they will be in the Lions’ first match of the season. Not only has the Russians never played in South Africa or against South African opposition (as far as I know), their individual players are also unknown to the South African audiences.

Ranked #20 by the IRB the Russian Bears is definitely a third tier rugby nation, on par with natons like Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and the Ukraine while below nations like Canada, USA and Georgia. Results during 2011/12 bear this out. During the 2011 RWC they lost to Australia (22-68), Ireland (12-62), Italy (17-53) and USA (6-13). During 2012 they beat Portugal (33-32), Ukraine (38-19, Spain (41-37 and Uruguay (19-13) while losing to Romania (0-25), Georgia (0-46), Emerging Italy (17-33), Argentina A (9-33), USA (26-40) and Canada (3-35).

If one consider that the Kings beat Portugal, Georgia and Romania during the 2011 Nations Cup the Golden Lions should be considered favourites for the match even though they have lost a number of their first choice players after the 2012 season.

Injuries forced the Russians to leave some of their key players at home (Alexander Shakirov, Yevgeny Matveyev, Vladimir Botvinnik, Sergei Popov, Vladimir Boltenkov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Denis Antonov and Vladislav Korshunov) while they recalled a number of players who haven’t played for them in quite a while: Jaroslav River (2006), Sergey Novoselov and Maxim Kiselev (2007) and Sergei Yanyushkin (2009). They will also feature some rookies including Sergey Chernyshev (hooker) and Ruslan Shirinov (lock).

The Russians play their first match on Monday night against the University of Johannesburg and this match will give us an indication of their relative strength.

Apart from the Super Rugby opponents the Lions Challenge schedule has been set up so that the Lions face more competitive opponents later in the season to prepare them for the Wooden Spoon play-offs at the end of July. For the Lions the match against the Russian Bears provides an opportunity to ease into the 2013 season with a new team and new combinations before tackling more demanding opposition.

The Lions will start the season with some senior players missing – CJ van der Linde (injured), Deon van Rensburg (injured) and Warren Whiteley (Blitsbokke till mid Feb) – while scrumhalf Whestley Moolman is also out injured.

Potential Golden Lions team:

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Cmbrinck, 13 Dylan Des Fountain, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 , 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Franco Mostert/Hugo Kloppers, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg

Subs: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Franco Mostert/Hugo Kloppers, 19 Warwick Tecklenberg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Deon Helberg

Lions Challenge Superbru Pool:

Pool name: Sploggers
Pool code: hourtogo

18 responses to Lions Challenge – Hunting Bears

  1. I was at the Varsity Stadium on Monday. The Bears showed a lot of flame and fire. The only problem with them is they are not on the same level yet due to the shortage of training experience on their home ground. Unfortunately the climate conditions in Russia wouldnt allow them to have a full-time drill like our players have it here in SA. Another factor playing against the Bears such as history of Russian rugby, which goes back slightly more than 20yrs. What was happening regarding this kind of sport in the USSR cannot be taken into consideration as everything coming from the “rotten West” was not welcome and rugby used to look more like a hobby than professional sport. So 20-something years of experience and lack of practice do not do them any favors in comparison to the life line of the Sprinboks. But let me tell you something, Russia nowadays are showing big interest in rugby, still sitting at their 20th in the world ranking position they already have 365 registered clubs, consisting of 21something thousand of male and about 1500 female players (heck, why am i turning 33, a bit late to start, and still have to grow additional 20 kgs of weight which i am not dying to do:D). Recently they busy building a new rugby residence in Sochi which subtropical climate is very much similar to Joburg’s highvelt , therefore full time training will be possible. Watch this space , it wont take the Russians long to bring themselves 10 steps up.
    P.S. I sincerely hope that the Golden Lions will forgive me for one-night betrayal as i am going to shout for the Bears. In any case i wish all players to come out as heroes and spectators to enjoy a brilliant performance.

  2. UJ beat Russia 14-0 last night.

    Apparently the game was fairly level except for UJ’s two break-away tries

  3. The big problems team like Russia, Georgia etc. face is the ability to play for the full 80 minutes.

    I watched them play the USA and they start off with immense force, because let us not kid ourselves, the Russians are big guys. But they seem to tire quickly and in rugby if a team tires, they are doomed against stronger and fitter opposition.

    I was glad to see that Superbru came to the party with the Lions Challenge, that should keep public interest high and their fanbase secure.

    • True. These are essentially amateurs/semi-professionals playing against professionals.

      Yes, it’s good to have Supersport coming to the party and a site like Superbru also keeping interest up.

  4. Here you can also read about the Russian team

  5. Nr 14, Ruan Combrinck, is it the same guy that used to play scrumhalf for the Bulls?

  6. Sorry!
    Russia played in South Africa in 2009:
    Blue Bulls Vodacom 18:15 Russia
    University of Pretoria 19:15 Russia
    University of Johannesburg 36:15 Russia
    As a part of the Russian bear is no better rugby Russia 2012 Denis Simplikevich (Player in 2012 in Russia), not come players English clubs Vasily Artemyev, Kirill Kulemin, ex-player “Melbourne Rebels” Adam Burns and many others. Composition is very experimental!

  7. Personaly i would pick young Boshoff at 10. I know the Bulls didnt want Boshoff2 years ago, but Lionel Cronje has been dumped by both WP and the Bulls 2 years in a row. Guys i’ve spoken to says the mental toughness just isnt there for him. Boshoff at least had a decent run with Griquas. Its a decent starting 15 (i’ve said the same about the Kings though) and they should put at least 50 on the Russians. On the other hand they need the games to be competitive to draw viewers.

    The Cronje twins were big news coming through the ranks, but even at VC level Cronje wasnt the best flyhalf on the pitch in most of the games.

  8. Thats still not a bad looking team they’re fielding against the russians. Who else do we have to cover flyhalf? I dont really like Lionel Cronje.. Or am I thinking of Ross Cronje now? confused..

    • Probably Guy Cronje, Ross’s brother. Other flyhalves: Marnitz Boshoff and Marais Schmidt (u/21).

    • Lionel Cronje has all the talent in the world. When he was still at the states I was sad seeing him leave and Sias stay.

      But as they say his mental toughness is not there.

      • Not sure if it’s mental toughness or attitude/discipline but the spell with the Lions must be his last chance before being relegated to the minors

        • He is going the same route as Earl Rose or am I taking it too far?

          • He never got regular play time at WP or the Blue Bulls so it’s difficult to say. And the last real discipline problems I heard about was about 2 years ago. Not sure what the current problems are but, for one thing, the Bulls prefer the kicking games of Mornetjie and Fouche.

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