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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.

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Lions Updates – Bandise, Waylon, Butch are gone, Mitch isn’t

November 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Latest News: I enjoy legal stories and tv dramas and one thing I’ve learned from reading John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Scot Turrow and others is that being found “Not guilty” isn’t quite the same as being innocent. It often only means that you had better lawyers. I think it is time for the GLRU to review the quality of legal advice they get from their legal team.

While the details are still shrouded in mystery the indications are that John Mitchell was found not guilty and it would be interesting to see what the arbitrator’s “recommendations” are.

The Lions obviously felt they had a case, or were advised so by their legal team, but were given another drubbing in a “Courtroom Contest”. Not good.

While it is in the news that Mitchell wants his Lions job back as he still has some “unfinished business”, I cannot see that this would be a good thing, not with what has played off over the last few months.

Boks:

Another ex-Lion Bok, one-tester Heinke van der Merwe, was apparently placed on standby in the UK after the idea to use Brian Mujati fell by the wayside due to the SA law that requires national sport representative to be SA citizens. Mujati isn’t, he doesn’t hold a SA passport, in fact he isn’t even an SA resident. Let’s not go the Ireland route of sourcing anyone with a remote SA connection to play for the Boks.

November tests Round 1:

I’m trying a new idea and am following the bookies’ handicaps for my Superbru picks:

Italy by 8, England by 32, Wales by 10, South Africa by 3, France by 3, New Zealand by 26

Player Losses & Gains:

With attracting much notice another young Lion has started plying his trade in France. Lock Sebastian De Chaves (Lions u/19, Lions u/21, Vodacom Cup, 2010 SA u/20) now plays for Mont de Marsan, France.

Three player whose contracts had ended has left, Bandise Maku (confirmed) and Waylon Murray (potentially) for the Kings while Butch James postponed his retirement to play back-up to Pat Lambie at the Sharks.

Lions Player Losses & Gains

Games for 2013: While there’s still no clarity about the games planned for the Lions in 2013 as a number of issues still need to be resolved (tv time, sponsors, IRB and SARU approval) and with the Lions facing a drop in income from sponsors, season ticket holders and gate receipts their plans might just all come to naught unless these issues can be resolved.

The future: With the Heineken Cup in turmoil after the English and French threat to pull out when the current agreements end in 2014 this might be a good time for SARU to negotiate a spot for the non-playing franchise with the “new” European competition from 2015.

Meanwhile Tony McKeever seems to be out walking the forums punting his Super 6 idea, originally devised for the Kings, as a solution. Whether that will ever fly with the rugby officialdom, given the history between SARU and McKeever, remains to be seen but it is time for SARU to get off their collective asses, stop spouting platitudes and put some real and permanent plan on the table for the Sixth Franchise because at the moment they are damaging the rugby futures of at least two franchises and six unions.

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Lions Players Update – New or extended contracts

October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Golden Lions announced the players who extended their contracts or who signed new contracts with the union. These players are in addition to players already under contract.

I am particularly glad to see Malcolm Marx’s name on the list as I was worried that we’d lose him. At 1,88m and 108 kg the SA Schools hooker is a monster and I won’t be surprised seeing him play some senior rugby next year.

The players who are extending or are signing their first contracts are

2013 Under 19s:

Malcolm Marx (2012 SA Schools), hooker, 2013 – 2014
Jano Venter (2012 SA Schools), loose forward 2013 – 2014
Akhona Sihunu (2012 SA Schools) scrumhalf 2013 – 2014
Jaco van der Walt (2011 SA Schools) flyhalf 2013 – 2014

2013 Under-21s:
Mark Pretorius, hooker, 2013
Gideon Muller, prop, 2013
Ruan Venter, lock, 2013 – 2014
Stephan de Witt, loose forward, 2013 – 2014
Ruan Lerm, loose forward, 2013 – 2014
Fabian Booysen, loose forward, 2013
Jacques Kotze, prop – 2013

2013 Seniors:

Francois du Toit , hooker 2013 – 2014
Ruan Dreyer, prop, 2013 – 2014
Derick Minnie, loose forward, 2013 – 2014
Willie Britz, loose forward, 2013 – 2014
Warwick Tecklenberg, loose forward, 2013 – 2014
Marais Schmidt, flyhalf, 2013 – 2014
Robert du Bruyn Centre 2013
Anthony Volmink, wing, 2013 – 2014
JR Esterhuizen, wing, 2013
Deon Helberg, wing, 2013
Andries Coetzee, fullback/flyhalf – 2013 – 2014
Ruan Combrinck, Wing/fulback – 2013
Marnitz Boshoff, flyhalf – 2013 – 2014

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by Baylion

Friday snippets

September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

All eyes will be on Loftus on Saturday to see whether the new-look Springboks featuring six youngsters will also mean a new-look game plan. Or will they stick to the old kick-and-chase and hope for penalties from 60m in?

Young Johan Goosen will be in the spotlight. Can he revitalise a Springbok backline that has been ineffective for a number of seasons now? Or will it be merely his big boot that will be on display?

I was interesting to hear HM say that the players always had the freedom to play the game as they see it. Does this mean that the Boks limited game plan was due to a lack of vision from Morne Steyn and Jean de Villiers?

Another point of interest will be the bench, will Pat Lambie get to play more that 5 minutes and will Elton Jantjies even get on the field? Time will tell.

And on the forums a number of people are upset with Jaco Taute jumping the queue to get in front of Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie. As I said before, HM definitely has an ideal team in mind and when the players he wants become available they go right to the front of the line.

Rugby365 reports that there are still tickets available for Saturday’s test and no wonder, at those prices – R550 for the Main and East Lower Stands, R450 for the East Stand, R350 for seating behind the poles and R350 (special offer) for certain East Stand tickets. Or could it be it’s because there are only three Bulls in the match 22?

No wonder SARU took the Soccer City test away from the Lions. At these prices and a full stadium the Lions could have paid off their debts!

This video clip has nothing to do with rugby or sport.

http://youtu.be/xwBP4_hdMqY

Elsewhere, WP isn’t sure who will be their backup flyhalf. It might be Joe Pietersen or it might be scrumhalf Louis Schroeder, it could even be Brok Harris.

While WP might look to a scrumhalf as backup flyhalf, in Bloemfontein Naka has had enough of a scrummie playing at #10 and has recalled perennial bridesmaid, Sias Ebersohn, to the flyhalf spot. Will he show that he give a sh!t and, for once, play to his potential from the start?

Up in Joburg the strained relationship between the Golden Lions and the Leopard continues with the GLRU reporting the Leopards for using some Lions players without permission last weekend and this could cost the Leopard 5 log points.

And down in Cape Town WP’s backline coach, Robbie Fleck, has named Lionel Mapoe South Africa’s best centre. No matter that the Sharks want Paul Jordaan and the Cheetahs Robert Ebersohn in the Bok side, Mapoe has grown into the #13 jersey this year. With his SBWesque linebreaks and offloads he might be a good #12 with Taute on his outside, for the Lions I mean.

I see the Brumbies are trying to help their supporters pronounce Etienne Oosthuizen’s surname: Oost-hi-zen? :)

Oh yes, and before I forget, the GLRU is hosting an open-for-all Information Breakfast regarding the plans for the future as well as the games planned for 2013. This will be on Wednesday 22 October at the Coke Tin.

GLRU Information BreaksfastAnd another thing, don’t forget the GLRU’s Picnic In The Park on 6 October to watch the Boks vs the All Blacks on the big screen at Ellis Park

Picnic in the Park

Enjoy the rugby this weekend

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by Baylion

Lions 2013 feedback

September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The GLRU had a feedback meeting with stakeholders on Saturday. According to the Lions fan forum, LionsWorld, the Lions schedule is taking shape:

  • Matches against the five SA Super Rugby franchises before the competition starts (Jan/Feb). Matches will be televised.
  • Four Heineken Cup teams have confirmed to play the Lions before the start of the HC (June/July). Negotiations with a fifth is still in process. Matches also has to be approved by SARU still.
  • The GLRU is in talks with Pacific Island, South American and USA teams but nothing has been confirmed yet.

As to player loans the GLRU will consider lending about four or five players, primarily to the Bulls and the Sharks, for Super Rugby. Discussions with players whose contracts expire in 2013 in ongoing to try and convince them to extend.