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Lions: A lack of experienced depth

February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Looking at the potential Super Rugby squad it is not so much a case of not having talented players but the fact that the players in certain key positions are young and/or inexperienced at a higher level of rugby.

Potential squad:
(Players in brackets replacing currently injured players)

Hooker: Willie Wepener, Robbie Coetzee, (Malcolm Marx)
Prop: Bees Roux, Julian Redelinghuys, Schalk van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen
Lock: Franco van der Merwe, Martin Muller, Franco Mostert, Hugo Kloppers, Ruan Venter
Loose forward: Willie Britz, Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Warwick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley, Lambert Groenewald
Scrumhalf: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Faf de Klerk
Flyhalf: Marnitz Boshoff, Willie du Plessis, (Guy Cronje)
Centre: Alwyn Hollenbach, Stefan Watermeyer, JW Jonker, Stokkies Hanekom
Wing: Deon van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Deon Helberg, (Courtnal Skosan)
Fullback: Ruan Combrinck, Chrysander Botha, (Kobus de Kock)

Beseer: Francois du Toit, Ruan Dreyer, Chris van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Dylan Des Fountain, Anthony Volmink, Andries Coetzee

There are a number of area of concern:

Props: Apart from Bees Roux the Lions props are either young and inexperienced or just plain inexperienced.
Locks: The Lions have experience in Franco van der Merwe and Martin Muller but their back-ups are inexperienced.
Scrumhalves: A serious lack of quality back-ups for Michael Bondesio, who has become more and more injury prone.
Centres: The first choice midfield of Hollenbach and Hanekom are injury prone and we will probably have to rely on Watermeyer and Jonker to see us through the season with the youngsters serving as further back-up.
Wings: While the Lions now have a number of real speedsters out wide their defence will be a worry.
Fullbacks: With Andries Coetzee out injured again only Ruan Combrinck really inspires any confidence at the back.

The only areas where the Lions seem to be well covered are in the loose forwards and at flyhalf with the first choice lock pairing solid enough as well.

I am not saying that the inexperienced players won’t be able to make the grade but 2014 will be a year when they will have to step up and use the opportunities they get to become household names.

My first choice match 23 with currently available players:

15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6, Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1, Bees Roux

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Schalk van der Merwe, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Chrysander Botha

What will your’s look like?

Originally published on Lions Pride

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Lions 2014 Super Rugby jersey launched

January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Lions 2014 Super Rugby jerseyThe unsponsored Lions has launched their 2014 Super Rugby jersey a week earlier than originally planned. This sparked some speculation that a main sponsor would also be announced but that was not to be.

The Lions steered clear of controversial designs and went for a plain scarlet jersey with some white piping on the front and a white panel on the back where the number comes.

Order your Lions 2014 Super Rugby jersey from Lions Pride

Lions 2014 Super Rugby jersey

 

Lions 2014 Super Rugby jersey

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Super Rugby Jerseys Online

January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

sharksThe stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break and the initial rush and will be shipped as they become available. The Lions will launch ed their Super Rugby jersey on 22 January while the Cheetahs haven’t indicated when they will launch.

Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys – R599

Bulls 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R649

Lions 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R649

Stormers 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R699

 New online rugby shops:

Bulls Stampede Rugby Shop

Sharks Shiver Rugby Shop

 

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Super Rugby 2014 SA Conference Preview

January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

We’re into the final month of Super Rugby pre-season preparations and the team squads are slowly taking shape although no team has announced its final squad yet and the teams still have to play their warm up matches.

When one look at the provisional squad lists and taking what one know about the teams it is possible to do a provisional preview of the season. However, we know that pre-season previews tend to be fairly useless as injuries and form take a hand in during the season but it still is fun.

Sharks:

On paper the Sharks have the best squad, loaded with Springboks and experience and with only a few rookies looking likely to get much game time. The one position where the Sharks might be vulnerable is at lock where, apart from PSDT they don’t have any locks of real quality.

The internal battle for the flyhalf spot between Pat Lambie and Fred Zeilinga will be interesting to watch. Zeilinga was impressive during the Currie Cup while Lambie had a largely forgetable year last year.

Overall they have a solid and experienced forward pack but the depth at the back looks a bit brittle. However, they have enough talent available to finish top of the SA Conference in 2014.

Players to watch: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frederik Zeilinga, Heimar Williams, SP Marais

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 1
Overall: 3

Prop: Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Dale Chadwick,
Hooker: Kyle Cooper, Bismarck du Plessis,
Lock: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Peet Marais, Etienne Oosthuizen, Edwin Hewitt, Anton Bressler
Loose forward: Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Tera Mtembu
Scrumhalf: Charl McLeod, Cobus Reinach, Tyler Fisher,
Flyhalf: Pat Lambie, Frederik Zeilinga
Centre: Frans Steyn, Heimar Williams,
Utility back: Paul Jordaan, Tim Swiel, Jaco van Tonder, Adriaan Esterhuizen,
Wing: Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen,
Fullback: SP Marais

Head coach: Jake White

Cheetahs:

After a good 2013 Super Rugby season but a poor Currie Cup for both partners, the Free State and Griquas, the Cheetahs will be able to field a settled and experienced squad of players. Once again their lock/loosies open play will be crucial to their campaign and to provide their potentially dangerous backs with quality ball.

In 2013 they played a much more balanced game than in the past and it will be interesting to see whether they can do it again this year. The presence of Robert Ebersohn in the midfield will be missed, both for his fetching and for his organisation of the backline defence.

The biggest issue for me as that their second choice players are distinctly inferior to their first choice players in most positions and they will hope that they have another year of limited injuries.

Players to watch: Lood de Jager, Shaun Venter, Johan Goosen, Howard Mnisi

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 2
Overall: 6

Prop: Coenie Oosthuizen, Trevor Nyakane, Caylib Oosthuizen, Rossouw de Klerk
Hooker: Adriaan Strauss, Hercú Liebenberg, Ryno Barnes
Lock: Lood de Jager, Waltie Vermeulen, Ligtoring Landman, Francois Uys
Loose Forwards: Heinrich Brüssow, Lappies Labuschagné, Boom Prinsloo, Philip van der Walt, Jean Cook
Scrumhalf: Sarel Pretorius, Shaun Venter, Kevin Luiters
Flyhalf: Johan Goosen, Elgar Watts, Francois Brummer
Centre: Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Howard Mnisi,
Wing: Raymond Ruhle, Rayno Benjamin, Rocco Jansen, Cornal Hendricks
Fullback: Willie le Roux, Hennie Daniller, Riaan Smit

Head coach: Naka Drotske

Stormers:

The Stormers lost a few experienced players and gained very little. With Eben Etzebeth out for most of the season they look thin at lock and will depend on their two penalty machines, Rynhardt Elstadt and Michael Rhodes, to fill the gap while hoping they won’t get carded too often.

The Stormers’ forward strength is in the quality of their loose forwards.

At the back they are thin on quality scrumhalves and flyhalves, solid in the midfield while the lack of size on the wing could cost them on defence.

Unfortunately the Stormers will once again look to defend their way to the top and that’s not the way to win trophies. While Catrakilis is a quality flyhalf their biggest game breakers are out wide and unless Aplon and Kolbe get enough ball to play with they will merely be defensive liabilities.

I don’t see the Stormers having a better year than last year as overall the squad just looks unimpressive and they will probably fight it out with the Cheetahs for the #2 SA Conference spot.

Players to watch: Ruan Botha, Schalk Burger, Demetri Catrakilis, Cheslin Kolbe

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 3
Overall: 8

Prop: Pat Cilliers, Brok Harris, Oli Kebble, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Alistair Vermaak.
Hooker: Tiaan Liebenberg, Scarra Ntubeni
Hooker/flank: Deon Fourie
Lock: Ruan Botha, Manuel Carizza, Tazz Fuzani, Jean Kleyn, De Kock Steenkamp
Lock/flank: Rynhardt Elstadt, Michael Rhodes
Loose forward: Schalk Burger, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Duane Vermeulen
Scrumhalf: Nic Groom, Godlen Masimla, Louis Schreuder
Flyhalf: Demetri Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman, Ryno Eksteen, Gary van Aswegen
Centre: Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Michael van der Spuy, Kobus van Wyk
Centre/Wing: Damian de Allende, Pat Howard
Fullback/Wing: Gio Aplon, Scott van Breda, Cheslin Kolbe
Fullback/Centre: Jaco Taute

Head coach: Allister Coetzee

Bulls:

Having lost a number of experienced players during 2013 the Bulls are a bit thin on experience and it’s only in the front row that they can field a set of experienced players, albeit mainly journeymen. Every other postion will feature rookies or near rookies and while their rookies were quality juniors they will have to make the step up to Super Rugby.

The biggest problem area for the Bulls is at flyhalf where they have no real quality with Louis Fouchè and Handrè Pollard as their first choice flyhalves and Tony Jantjies as a back up. The Bulls has some talented youngsters in the midfield and out wide but it remains to be seen whether their flyhalves can create enough opportunities for these players.

The Bulls have a tough year ahead of them and they will be hard-pressed not to finish bottom of the SA Conference. However, one can expect some of their youngsters to make the step up and this might just save them the embarrassment of finishing below the Lions.

Players to watch: Paul Willemse, Jacques du Plessis, Jan Serfontein, Clayton Blommetjies

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 4
Overall: 10

Props: Mornè Mellett, Dean Greyling, Frik Kirsten, Werner Kruger, Marcel van der Merwe
Hookers: Callie Visagie, Bandise Maku, Bongi Mbonambi
Locks: Flip van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Grant Hattingh, David Bulbring
Loose Forwards: Deon Stegman, Wiaan Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Pierre Spies, Jono Ross
Scrumhalves: Francois Hougaard, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige
Flyhalves: Louis Fouchè, Handrè Pollard
Midfield: Jan Serfontein, Waylon Murray, JJ Engelbrecht, William Small-Smith
Outside backs: Bjorn Basson, Akona Ndungane, Sampie Mastriet, Travis Ismaiel, Jurgen Visser, Jesse Kriel, Clayton Blommetjies
Utility Backs: Ryan Nell, Ulrich Beyers

Head coach: Frans Ludeke

Lions:

Coming out of the rugby wilderness of 2013 with only 12 players having played more than 10 Super Rugby games the Lions are in for a tough campaign, a campaign where their rookies and near-rookies have to step up and they will hope that injuries don’t derail them again as it did in 2012.

The Lions play an exciting brand of rugby but it is a brand where they tend to leak tries at crucial times and a lot will depend on whether they can limit the damage and pull off the wins when they get the opportunity rather than close losses.

The Lions will be in a battle with the Bulls for the bottom SA Conference spot and it will depend on which team’s rookies step up the best. Overall the Bulls rookies have a better pedigree and I expect the Bulls the pip the Lions to the post.

Players to watch: Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Stokkies Hanekom

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 5
Overall: 12

Prop: Ruan Dreyer, Julian Redelinghuys, Bees Roux, Schalk van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen
Hooker: Willie Wepener, Robbie Coetzee, Francois van Wyk, Malcolm Marx
Lock: Franco van der Merwe, Franco Mostert, Chris van Zyl, Hugo Kloppers, Ruan Venter, Martin Muller
Loose Forwards: Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Willie Britz, Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg, Lambert Groenewald
Scrumhalf: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Guy Cronje, Faf de Klerk
Flyhalf: Elton Jantjies, Marnitz Boshoff, Willie du Plessis
Centre: Alwyn Hollenbach, Stokkies Hanekom, Dylan Des Fountain, Robert de Bruyn, Lionel Mapoe
Wing: Anthony Volmink, Deon Helberg, Deon van Rensburg, Chrysander Botha,
Fullback: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrink

Head coach: Johan Ackermann

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Sponsorless Lions

December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Lions 2014 Super Rugby JerseyMTN’s decision not to renew their sponsorship of the Lions adds to the Lions problems for the new Super Rugby season. The year out of Super Rugby has already cost the Lions R45 million in income and the loss of their title sponsor without a replacement sponsor in place will add to the headaches in the Ellis Park executive offices. The MTN sponsorship was originally reported to be R20 million per year.

The protracted Currie Cup expansion saga added to the Lions struggle to secure or finalise sponsors and probably was a contributing factor to MTN finally deciding not to renew their sponsorship.

http://www.lionsrugby.co.za/lionsnews.aspx?item=4128&multiid=966&archive=0

Edit: Read Lions year in review

 

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Lions Super Rugby 2014: Time to bury the hatchet?

October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Lions Challenge is finished and for the Lions the Currie Cup is over. They are taking a welcome break until mid November when the Super Rugby pre-season training starts and coach Johan Ackermann has made it clear – there will be no big signings, no “star” players joining, before the Super Rugby competition starts in February next year.

In 2012 the Lions franchise partners, for reasons of their own, joined the crowd to vote the Lions out of Super Rugby. Well, the Lions are back! But the fact is, considering the players they’ve lost, they are back where they were at the start of 2011 with a squad made up of a few old loyal black manes and bunch of inexperienced young males looking to start with a new pride.

Lions squad for 2014 as it currently stands

It is time for the Lions to bury the hatchet and look at the personnel their franchise partners have who can add value to the squad.

At the Pumas you can start at the top cat, Jimmy Stonehouse. This man has kept the Pumas competitive after they got dumped out of the Currie Cup Premier Division and have managed to retain a squad of good journeyman players. Pulling him into the Lions Super Rugby coaching set up is a no-brainer.

I don’t claim to have followed the Pumas and Leopards players through their competitions but having performed well in the First Division their surely must be a few players who could make the step up.

The Pumas, I believe, have a number of players who could add value to the Lions playing squad, players like Coenie van Wyk, Faf de Klerk, Stefan Watermeyer, Rosco Specman, Corne Steenkamp and Renaldo Bothma. And at the Leopards you have players like BG Uys, Morne Hanekom and Luther Obi.

But now for the biggest hatchet to be buried, the one aimed at Cheeky Watson’s head. Isn’t it time for the Lions and the Kings to look to work together at strengthening both franchises. Let’s face it, SARU has screwed it up royally, maybe it’s time the franchises look to help each other grow rather than cut each others’ throats.

The Kings still have a few of their Super Rugby players left, players with experience who can add value not only to the Lions but also to a future Kings squad. Currently on the books at the Kings are players like Michael Killian, George Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Sergeal Petersen, Steven Sykes, Darron Nell and Devin Oosthuizen.

Beggars can’t be choosers, Ackers!

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Lions supporters need to kit up again

October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

MTN Lions 2014 Super Rugby replica and supporters merchandiseThe Lions were out of Super Rugby for a year and with Canterbury taking over from Gilbert midway through the Lions Challenge Lions fans got the short end of the stick when it came to Lions supporters jerseys and other fan merchandise.

The 2014 Lions Super Rugby have been launched and is available from Lions Pride Rugby Shop

Now in stock!

Golden Lions 2013 Currie Cup Replica Jersey – White (Men’s only)

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Golden Lions / Lions contracted players for 2014

September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Golden Lions Rugby Union can confirm that the following players have renewed their senior contracts with the Union for the 2014 season:

  • Jacques van Rooyen
  • Robbie Coetzee
  • Ruan Dreyer
  • Franco van der Merwe
  • Jaco Kriel
  • Warren Whiteley
  • Ruaan Lerm
  • Ross Cronje
  • Guy Cronje
  • Elton Jantjies
  • Marnitz Boshoff
  • Ruan Combrinck
  • Alwyn Hollenbach
  • Lionel Mapoe
  • Deon Helberg

The following players are new Golden Lions Rugby Union Senior signings for 2014:

  • Bees Roux
  • Willie Wepener
  • Julian Redelinghuys
  • Martin Muller
  • MB Lusaseni
  • Lambert Groenewald
  • Willie du Plessis
  • Courtnal Skosan
  • Vainon Willis
  • Chrysander Botha

The following players already have 2014 contracts with the Golden Lions Rugby Union:

  • Francois du Toit
  • Franco Mostert
  • Ruan Venter
  • Hugo Kloppers
  • Warwick Tecklenburg
  • Derick Minnie
  • Willie Britz
  • Michael Bondesio
  • Vian van der Watt
  • Anthony Volmink
  • Stokkies Hanekom
  • Andries Coetzee
  • Ruhan Nel
  • Marais Schmidt
  • JJ de Kock

http://www.lionsrugby.co.za/lionsnews.aspx?item=4128&multiid=864&archive=0

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Lions and Stormers fans get what they want

September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s not often that everyone get what they hope for but it does happen sometimes.

A number of the Lions senior players extended their contracts (so far only JC Janse van Rensburg and Hendrik Roodt signed elsewhere) and will be available for Super Rugby 2014.

Probably the most awaited signing, by both Lions and Stormers fans is that of Elton Jantjies and the young man realised that the Stormers game just doesn’t suit his style of play. According to Beeld Jantjies re-signed for two years with the Lions.

Other players who have extended their contracts are:

Marnitz Boshoff, Lionel Mapoe, Alwyn Hollenbach, Ruan Combrinck, Franco van der Merwe, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Willie Wepener.

Anthony Volmink, Stokkies Hanekom, Andries Coetzee, Derick Minnie and Willie Britz are already under contract through 2014.

Contract negotiations are continuing with other senior players.

The Golden Lions also contracted nine players from EG Jansen High School, winners of the Beeld Trophy, as well as eight players from the Golden Lions Craven Week side. 29 of the 32 new juniors contracted are from Gauteng schools.

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The Lions escaped

August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

It was a game of high intensity from the start with Western Province catching the Lions flat footed in the first 30 minutes steaming away to a 22-3 lead. WP will feel that they left a certain win on the table as they allowed the Lions back in the game to finally come away with a 31-all draw.

Full match: http://youtu.be/O9jczAM9NV4

As with most games nowadays where TMO decisions are involved it wasn’t a game without its share of controversy, in part due to commentators questioning decisions without have sufficient knowledge of the laws.

The Lions were beneficiaries of two TMO decisions that will probably be discussed ad nauseum this week especially by WP supporters feeling done in, the first being the apparent knock on leading up to Deon Helberg’s try, the other Damian de Allende being penalised and a penalty try being awarded.

Helberg’s try:

After the try was scored Jaco Peyper called in the TMO and from his gestures it was obvious that he wanted the possible knock-on investigated as he was behind the players and couldn’t see whether the Ball was knocked or came of a WP player.

The TMO went back to the incident and then ran through play until the try, never returning to the possible knock. Why not?

Well, in terms of the IRB TMO protocol the TMO can only go back two phases (rucks, mauls, scrums, etc.) from the try and there had been two rucks after the incident and before the try was scored, which means that the possible knock on fell outside the scope of the TMO. As we saw no close up slomo’s of the incident it is impossible to say whether it was a knock or not but it certainly looked like one.

The penalty try:

The TMO ruled that de Allende came in from the wrong side and dived on Boshoff and prevented him from scoring a probable try and Peyper awarded a penalty try and yellow-carded de Allende.

Taking the last bit first, when a penalty try is awarded it is an automatic yellow card for the offending player, therefore the yellow card was correct in the situation.

Now, did de Allende perform a penalisable offence?

In terms of the tackle laws and its application a player arriving at a tackle has to 1) come through the “gate” and 2) remain on his feet.

The Gate:

Video: http://youtu.be/gBEbwalWDto

 

Arriving players:

Video: http://youtu.be/hKTspUUa_IM

 

Boshoff was clearly tackled and on the ground when de Allende arrived, came in from the side and not from behind his team mate and dived in, not staying on his feet. He then proceeded to play the ball on the ground making it three penalisable offences, which wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow if penalised anywhere else on the park.

With that behind us and sorted out I think most Lions supporters will feel that the Lions had a lucky escape after being outplayed in the first half. These slow starts have been a problem for the Lions the whole year already and they need to get it sorted out but quickly.

Match review: http://lionspride.co.za/match-review-lions-western-province-end-stalemate

Photos added as per comment below:

Before Kolbe released the ball:

kolbe1

 

As Kolbe release the ball:

kolbe2