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Lions 2013 – A Long & Winding Road Ahead

January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

Looking at the two years ahead I struggle to see how the Lions will not only get back into Super Rugby but also stay in Super Rugby.

The Golden Lions match squad selected for Saturday’s game against Russia highlights the tough task the Lions have ahead of them to get back into Super Rugby. And if they do get back it will be even tougher to be competitive in 2014.

Even a minimal number of injuries to senior players have left the Lions with a young and inexperienced squad, a squad which can by no means be seen as a potential Super Rugby squad for 2014. Injuries to CJ van der Linde, Deon van Rensburg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Dylan Des Fountain, Ruan Combrinck and Jaco Kriel resulted in a team with an average age of only 23 and with 11 Lions debutants, a young and inexperienced side on whose shoulders rest the task of getting the franchise back into Super Rugby. To be frank, the team announced for the Russia game is probably no better than a Lions Vodacom Cup team of past years.

Further injuries during the season, which are inevitable, will leave the team with even less experience by the time the have to play in the Wooden Spoon knock outs at the end of July. By July the Lions side could very well consist of mainly u/19 and u/21 players and even the return of their loan players may not be enough to get them through the knock outs and into Super Rugby 2014.

And then the real trouble starts.

At the end of 2013 a number of Lions players’ contracts come to an end and even if the Lions get back into Super Rugby they will probably lose some of these players:

Elton Jantjies, Flyhalf, 2013
Jaco Taute, Fullback, 2013
Lionel Mapoe, Wing/centre, 2013 (?)
Franco van der Merwe, Lock, 2013 (?)
Robert du Bruyn, Centre, 2013
JR Esterhuizen, wing, 2013
Deon Helberg, wing, 2013
Ruan Combrinck, Wing/fulback – 2013
JC Janse van Rensburg, prop – 2013
CJ van der Linde, prop – 2013
Hendrik Roodt, lock – 2013
Jaco Kriel, flank – 2013
Stephan Greeff, lock – 2013
Warren Whiteley, eighthman – 2013
Michael Bondesio, scrumhalf – 2013
Ross Cronje, scrumhalf – 2013
Whestley Moolman, scrumhalf – 2013
Guy Cronje, flyhalf – 2013
Alwyn Hollenbach, centre – 2013
Dylan Des Fountain, centre – 2013
Bradley Moolman, centre – 2013
Deon van Rensburg, centre/wing – 2013
(as per last known info)

During 2013 the Lions not only have to keep their players match fit (the primary reason for the Lions Challenge schedule) but will have to develop and grow these youngsters into a team capable of taking on and beating South Africa’s Super Rugby sides.

While the current status is that the Lions will play the last placed SA side (generally presumed to be the Kings) SARU may well decide to give the Kings more time and for the Lions to play the last SA side, excluding the Kings, but even the Kings will not be walk in the park with the young and inexperienced side the Lions will probably have to field in July.

However, it will not be enough for the Lions just to get back into Super Rugby, they need to be more competitive in Super Rugby 2014 than they have been in the last 10 years. And to do that they will have to keep their best players and get the players to extend their contracts, a tough ask.

But in addition to this they will have to recruit some experienced talent for 2014 and, I fear, this is a pipe dream. We all saw how they struggled to keep and recruit top players when they were in Super Rugby.

All credit to the GLRU and the Lions to fight back but SARU’s decision to sacrifice the Lions for the Kings makes it virtually impossible for the Lions to recover.

10 responses to Lions 2013 – A Long & Winding Road Ahead

  1. I will be supporting two teams this year, the LIONS and any team against the Kings . May they lose every game by 100 points. They shouldve played a promotion relegation game against the Lions and the winner shouldve played the Super 15. If my memory serves me right, the Lions whipped the Kings by 80 points last season. Ill be supporting you Lions. Watch this space – Our young guns will rise.

  2. What…… the Lions got good players?

    • Funny you should ask. 17 of the Lions players of last year walked into the Super Rugby squads from other franchises

      Stormers: Ruan Botha, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Jaco Taute, Elton Jantjies (5)
      Bulls: Paul Willemse, Grant Hattingh, Callie Visagie, Rudi Paige, Lionel Mapoe (5)
      Sharks: Butch James, Franco van der Merwe (2)
      Cheetahs: Caylib Oosthuizen (1)
      Kings: Bandise Maku, Michael Killian, Waylon Murray (3)
      Brumbies: Etienne Oosthuizen (1)

      Then add the players who went to Europe, Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors), Jacobie Adriaanse (Scarlets) and Doppies la Grange (Treviso)

      Of the current players who could also walk into other squads:

      JC Janse van Rensburg, Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Michael Bondesio and Andries Coetzee. And give youngsters like Anthony Volminck and Ruan Combrinck a bit more time and they will also be in demand.

  3. All I can say is go Lions. Show these politicians they made the worst mistake of their lives to exclude you and include the Queens. Hopefully some of those players will be loyal to the Lions and stay with the Golden Lion Franchise and play their hearts out for their franchise.

  4. This setback is probably the biggest ‘wake-up call’ that Golden Lions Rugby has ever had and, will serve to put the required ‘Fire in our Bellies’ to regain Greatness. Whilst its Sad, Tough, Challenging, … whatever, the annals of human history have proved that this type of adversity can be the best medicine for renewed strength & superiority. I have great faith in Kevin & his new management to bring us safely through this uncertain time !! Looking at things from another perspective, look at the youngsters that we are bringing through !! There will definately be several new stars born this season!!!! Here, I firmly believe, is where our greatest efforts must be concentrated — to RETAIN our Stars !!!!

  5. You know, in a way I do feel for the Kings, not too much though.
    they have become public enemy no1, there is a lot too be said about this debacle, it could go on forever, yep the Kings are up the creek without a paddle, it seems to all, the Lions are down the creek with nothing or no one to help them. This is a fine way to bugger up two unions, reason? when you are SARU, you don’t need a reason for madness.

  6. Rusland span
    1.Gregory Tsnobiladze 2.Valery Tsnobiladze 3.Innocentiy Zykov,4.Alexander Voitov 5. Andrew Garbuzov 6. Andrew Temnov 7. Pavel Butenko 8. Victor Gresev 9. Alexander Yanyushkin 10.Sergei Yanyushkin 11. Mikhail Babaev 12. Alexey Makovetsky, 13. Jaroslav Reshnev 14. Andrew Otrokov 15. Igor Klyuchnikov

    Reserwes: 16. Alexey Volkov, 17. Sergey Novoselov 18. Eugene Pronenko 19. Maxim Kiselev 20. Artem Fatakhov 21. Alexey Shcherban 22. Sergey Sugrobov 23. Igor Kurashov

  7. Oh well. All they can do now is start over and start building a team again. They might have to fork out some serious money to lure some experienced saffers playing overseas to get some experience in the team. There are more than enough of saffers playing overseas, some of them might want to come back to SA to play super rugby.

  8. These are very harsh but true words you are saying, i fear for the season & for the end of the year, i really think this is a disgrace, yes, the team was under preforming for along time, but just as they are rising & showing a glimmer of past, the team gets toen apart by such political nonsense! It really is a shame. All the best my Boytjies!! I will support you ever more!!

    • Unfortunately SARU’s decision, and more specifically the way it was done, didn’t do either the Lions or the Kings any favours and both franchises will now struggle to perform and settle at Super Rugby level.

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