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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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Pumas, 1st Division Champions

October 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Congratulations to the Pumas for winning the Currie Cup 1st Division. Their comprehensive victory over the EP Kings sets them up well for the promotion / relegation matches against Griquas over the next two weeks.

The Lions franchise partners closed off an unbeaten Currie Cup campaign with success and hopefully the Lions coach, Johan Ackermann, has developed a closer relationship with Pumas coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, ahead of next year’s Super Rugby. Not only should Stonehouse be pulled into the Lions Super Rugby coaching staff but a number of Pumas players can help the Lions build depth in their squad.

I always like Renaldo Bothma’s game when he played for the Lions and it would be great to see him back at the Lions. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, winger Rocko Speckman, fullback/flyhalf Coenie van Wyk and centre Stefan Watermeyer could all be valuable additions to the Lions Super Rugby squad.

Talking of centres, I wouldn’t mind the Lions recruiting Griquas centre, Howard Mnisi.

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Vodacom Cup Final Preview: Pumas vs Golden Lions

May 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Friday, May 17 2013
Pumas vs Golden Lions – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – 19:05
lionsvspumas
Franchise partners the Pumas and the Golden Lions face off in the final of the Vodacom Cup after wiping the floor with the EP Kings and WP respectively. With largely unchanged sides, Jaco Kriel coming back from injury for the Lions the only change, it is two experienced and stable teams that take each other on for the minor honours of being the Vodacom Cup champions, a honour the Lions have had four times before.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse, probably he best SA coach not coaching at the A level, will have done his homework after the loss against the Lions in the regular season and the Pumas will be competitive up front and at the breakdowns. With the number 2 points scorer in their midst they will look for penalty opportunities and opportunities to put speedster Rosko Speckman into space.

Against WP the Golden Lions were guilty of over-eagerness and indiscipline that lead to mistakes and a slew of penalties that kept WP in the game and this they cannot afford against the Pumas. Playing an attacking game is fair and well but the Lions will have to sharpen up on their discipline and play a slightly more conservative game. Allowing the Pumas to stay in the hunt through penalties can cost them on the night.

In the end the Golden Lions should have enough skill and talent to put the Pumas away but it is going to be a hard slog against a team of old hands coached by a wily coyote.

Lions by 12

Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Eduan van der Walt, 4 Uzair Cassiem, 3 Ivann Espag, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Momberg, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Marius Coetzer, 20 RW Kember, 21 Jerome Pretorius, 22 Dewald Pretorius.

Golden Lions: 15 Chryzander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Van Zyl Botha, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronjé, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 Lionel Cronjé.

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Vodacom Cup Semi Finals Preview

May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Vodacom Cup has reached the business end of the competition with the Golden Lions taking on WP in Johannesburg and the Pumas playing the EP Kings in Nelspruit. For the Lions the opportunity to play “match play” games benefits their preparations for the Wooden Spoon knock outs at the end of July but to get full value they need to progress to the final and win that too.

Vodacom Cup Semi Final

Saturday, May 11 2013
Golden Lions vs WP – Ellis Park, Johannesburg: 14:15

Although not anywhere near their potential Super Rugby team the Lions will field a very experienced match 22 against a very young WP side. Last week’s match 22 for WP had an average age is 22.50 with only seven of their players over 22 with just over 373 senior caps and seven Super Rugby caps to their credit compared to a Lions team averaging 24 years and with nearly 850 senior caps, of which 140+ are for Super Rugby.

Add to this that WP have lost their striker Cheslin Kolbe to the Baby Boks, had to replace an injured Rohan Kitshoff with Helmut Lehmann and are playing Tim Swiel at fullback, much to the disgust of some Swiel fans.

But in this apparent mismatch lies the danger. If the Lions aren’t careful and if they go into this game overconfident of success these youngsters could very well upset the apple cart. The Golden Lions team should have just too much talent and experience for this WP team but they need to take the game seriously and go out to win convincingly.

WP has scraped through a number of close matches during the round robin stages as well as in the quarter final against Griquas and can tough it out, if the Lions think they can play festival rugby on the day they could live to regret it. We saw last week how quickly a comfortable lead can disappear and the game be lost when the EP Kings beat the Blue Bulls after being 13-31 behind.

LIONS to beat Western Province by 20

Golden Lions: 15 Chryzander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Reserves: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronjé, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 Lionel Cronjé.

15. Tim Swiel, 14. Pat Howard, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Mike van der Spuy, 11. Devon Williams, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Bolla Conradie (captain), 8. Rayn Smid, 7. Graham Knoop, 6. Helmut Lehmann, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler (vice-captain), 3. Chris Heiberg, 2. Stephan Coetzee, 1. Ashley Wells
Reserves: 16. Jody Reyneke, 17. Tjoppie Ferreira, 18. Taz Fuzani, 19. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20. Godlen Masimla, 21. Kobus van Wyk, 22. Dillyn Leyds

Pumas vs EP Kings – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit: 16:30

The Pumas remains one of the better sides of the smaller unions and they have the advantage that they play at full strength as they do not lose players to a Super Rugby team. The EP Kings, on the other hand, had to release a number of players to the Southern Kings, some due to injuries of key players, other due to rotation. It is puzzling, however, that the fit players released from the Southern Kings wasn’t taken up in the EP Kings team and that most of the replacements were a number of 19, 20 and 21 year olds. As it is the rather young and inexperienced EP Kings side stand little chance against a Pumas side full of “hardebaard” experience.

Could it be that the EP Kings would rather not face the Lions in a final and lose in PE, as would be the case if they both win? A loss in PE against the Lions might send a negative message to both their supporters and their players and they would rather not risk that?

PUMAS to beat Eastern Province Kings by 9

Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Eduan van der Walt, 4 Uzair Cassiem, 3 Ivann Espag, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements:
16 Jacques Momberg, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Marius Coetzer, 20 RW Kember, 21 Jerome Pretorius, 22 Dewald Pretorius

Kings: 15 Kayle van Zyl, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Wayne Stevens, 12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Brian Skosana, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Mpho Mbioyzo (c), 6 Tomas Leonardi, 5 Darron Nell, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 KP du Plessis, 2 Boetie Britz, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 17 Brendan Olivier, 18 Samora Fihlani, 19 Dalton Davis, 20 Dwayne Kelly, 21 Marlou van Niekerk, 22 Lonwabo Ntleki.

http://lionspride.co.za/vodacom-cup-semi-finals-preview

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Vodacom Cup: Pumas vs Golden Lions – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Golden Lions take on the unbeaten Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night in the second last round of the league stage of the Vodacom Cup looking to qualify for the quarter finals. The Golden Lions initially played the Vodacom Cup with mainly under 20 and 21 players while the senior players focused on the Lions Challenge but with the USA tour cancelled the senior players have been pulled in to give them game time as well as to try and qualify for the quarter finals after the youngsters lost three of their four matches.

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Captain JC Janse van Rensburg is back from injury to lead the Golden Lions team selected for the match on Friday. The match 22 is close to their strongest and is made up mostly of their players from the Lions Challenge except for fullback Kobus de Kock and wing Chrysander Botha, both from the UJ Varsity Cup side and the ex-Sharks XV prop, Julian Redelinghuys.

Kobus de Kock has played 8 matches for the Sharks XV as well as for the 2012 club champions College Rovers and was also the top point scorer in the 2013 Varsity Cup, scoring 91 points through 22 conversions and 5 tries, while Zander Botha played for Namibia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup as well as for the Welwitschias and the Valke. Ex-Monnas boytjie, Julian Redelinghuys, played for SA Schools in 2006 and 2007 and the u/20 Boks in 2009 as well as for the Sharks juniors, Vodacom Cup and Curries Cup teams.

Although the Golden Lions left it late they can still make the quarter finals but a win against the Pumas is vital for the Golden Lions as they lie fifth on the log, equal on points with Griquas but behind on goal difference with the Griquas playing the Leopards in Kimberley this weekend. The Lions last match is against the Limpopo Blue Bulls.

The Pumas has been a bit of a bogey side for the Lions over the years, beating them once in the Currie Cup in 2010 and pushing them close in 2011, the year they won the Cup, while the Golden Lions last beat the Pumas in the Vodacom Cup in 2002 losing to them even in the years they won the Vodacom Cup.

Not only is a win important for their chances in the Vodacom Cup, the match will also be a good indication of where the Lions are in their preparation for the play-offs against the Kings later this year. In last year’s Currie Cup First Division the Pumas played the EP Kings three times, drawing twice and losing by one point in the finals.

The EP Kings and the Southern Kings sides may be different teams but their core players, especially up front, are the same so the Lions will want to win, and win well, as confirmation that they are on track with their preparations but it will by no means be an easy task as the Pumas have a squad of experienced journeymen players, players who have been around the block a number of times and who know not only how to play a spoiling game but also how to eke out upset results as they have done often in the Currie Cup Premier Division.

Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Wilhelm Loock, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Eduan van der Walt, 4 Boela Serfontein, 3 De-Jay Terblanché, 2 Jacques Momberg, 1 Corné Fourie.

Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Vincent Koch, 18 Doppies le Roux, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Faf de Klerk, 21 Jerome Pretorius, 22 Coenie van Wyk

Golden Lions: 15 Kobus de Kock, 14 Chrysander Botha, 13,Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink,23, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (Captain)
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Deon Helberg

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The Pumas should move to Nelspruit

November 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Ford “no beach only stinking coal mines” Pumas push the EP “Super Rugby Wannabies with Loads of Cash and A Beach” Kings close in the Currie Cup First Division this year. After 240 minutes of rugby only one point separated them and that point made the Kings champions.

In the meantime the Pumas found some cash to lure a number of new young players to the mine dumps of Witbank, which says a lot for their recruiting skills.

Ya Ya Hartzenberg (23) – flank (WP u/19, WP u/21, SA u/20, WP, Stormers)
Rosko Specman (23) – wing (EP u/19, Sharks u/21, Sharks XV, Sharks CC)
Stefan Watermeyer (24) – centre (Blue Bulls since u/16 and part time Griqua)
Wilmaure Louw (25) – centre (Griquas)
Frankie Herne (23) – hooker (Cheetahs and EP Kings)

I suggest that they seriously consider moving their headquarters to the beautiful Nelspruit, next to the Kruger National Park and a short drive from the beaches of Mozambique.

For your entertainment here’s Bob Dylan (although I don’t think he has ever been to Mozambique)

Bob Dylan – Mozambique

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The Lions should get better lawyers

August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

For the umpteenth time the Lions lost at arbitration when they lost their case against the Leopards and the Pumas. The fact that they went into arbitration because they disputed the Leopards and Pumas claims would only have been done on legal advice and from the result it seems this advice wasn’t very good.

While the result is not the be all and end all as the R6.6mil withheld by SARU for 2011 and 2012 should just about cover the R2.5mil they must pay the Leopards and the R3mil they must pay the Leopards and Pumas for 2011 and 2012. The damage of this result lies more in the damage to the Lions reputation and enhances the impression that they don’t have a clue how to win their battles .

I accept that this matter comes from before Kevin de Klerk’s time and from what I can make it it revolves around the fact that there seems to have been no written franchise agreement in place – another fiasco left behind by the previous Lions regime – but with the climate so anti-Lions it probably have been better to just pay up rather than go to arbitration.

Seriously, they need better legal advice. Kevin de Klerk is being left dangling in the wind by the current crowd.

In an interesting twist:
In a joint statement, the Pumas and Leopards said: “The Leopards Rugby Union and the Mpumalanga Rugby Union remain committed to the success of the Lions Franchise, notwithstanding the fact that the Lions Franchise will not participate in Super Rugby during the year 2013.”

And this after they voted against the Lions participation in Super Rugby? Come on! Tell me another one.

The decision:

1. Claim A (As regards 2008, 2009 en 2010)
1.1. The Golden Lions Rugby Union must pay the Leopards Rugby Union the amount of ZAR2 565 000.00, being franchise monies for 2008, 2009 and 2010.
1.2. No amount is payable to the Mpumalanga Rugby Union for this period as the parties concluded an earlier agreement on payment.
1.3. The Golden Lions Rugby Union must furthermore pay interest on the amount of ZAR2 565 000.00, payable to the Leopards Rugby Union, at the rate of 15.5 percent from the date of the arbitration agreement, namely 31 May 2012, until the date of payment.

2. Claim B (As regards 2011 and 2012)
2.1. The Golden Lions Rugby Union is instructed to conclude a business arrangement for the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Mpumalanga Rugby Union and the Leopards Rugby Union within two days after the granting of the arbitration order.
2.2. In the event of the parties not being able to reach an agreement as mentioned above, SARU is instructed to come to a decision on a fair and reasonable distribution of the amounts of ZAR6 600 000.00 for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
2.3. Should SARU come to a decision that the Golden Lions Rugby Union must pay a portion of the amount of ZAR6 600 000.00 to the Mpumalanga Rugby Union and the Leopards Rugby Union for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the above-mentioned amounts must be set off against the franchise payment of ZAR750 000.00 per annum payable by the Golden Lions Rugby Union to the Mpumalanga Rugby Union and the Leopards Rugby Union for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

3. The Golden Lions Rugby Union is instructed to pay the cost of the arbitration incurred by both the Mpumalanga Rugby Union as well as the Leopards Rugby Union.