A Super Solution

May 23, 2012
Posted by

SARU has less than a month to find a solution for the Super Rugby problem, and options are few.

Let us start by acknowledging that the Kings are here to stay.  Arguing about their right, or lack of, to participate in Super Rugby will serve no-one.

Secondly, we are sitting with an abnormal problem – forget who created it and how we got here, the most important thing to remember is to try and find a solution, and for this will require some clear heads and for emotion to be removed from the equation.

Can we stop this promotion/relegation rubbish?

I know many sports around the world uses a promotion/relegation system to determine which teams stays in the top league and which teams move down.  In principle I have absolutely no problem with this system but it simply will not work for South African rugby in the context or form our competitions are set up and played in.

Super Rugby is determined on a franchise system, which represent unions and regions coming together as one team for Super Rugby.  The feeder (lower league) competition to Super Rugby, the Currie Cup, is solely union based which makes it impossible for teams to be promoted and relegated on this principle.

If we are ever to entertain a promotion/relegation scenario for Super Rugby, drop the franchise concept and play a 14-team Currie Cup competition where the top 5 advance to Super Rugby.

Lions under fire

I don’t think it is a secret that the Lions are the team most likely to enter into some sort of compromise for 2013.  Administratively they have been under enormous pressure over the last decade and with a record of less than 20 wins in Super Rugby since 2006, their on-field performances are also not helping their cause.

South African rugby cannot afford for a union like the Lions to carry on the way they are, not financially or through their on-field performances in Super Rugby – and I don’t think many will argue that the reason for their demise over the last decade had a lot to do with issues within the union itself so they also cannot really blame anyone else.  That said, SA Rugby also cannot allow for the union to simply disappear.

Kings for more than a day

It is vitally important that SA Rugby has to change their approach from looking to invest their time, resources and money into the game of rugby as a whole rather than just a team or region.  No matter what solution is found, or who needs to compromise, the solution should have the single purpose to ensure that the game of rugby is improved in all regions and for all teams.

Currently it is rumoured that the Kings will only have a 1-year guaranteed gig for Super Rugby 2013, after which the lowest ranking team on the log will play a promotion/relegation match against the team in waiting, or be automatically relegated.  If this is going to be the approach, SA Rugby is wasting everyone’s time, including the supporters.

There is simply no-way in hell that the Kings can hope to put together a competitive Super Rugby team for 2013 with less than 8 months to prepare and contract players.  Teams like the Cheetahs, Force and Rebels who have entered Super Rugby in recent years are still struggling with to record winning averages above 35%, with the Rebels as the most recent edition and only in their 2nd year not even achieving a 20% win record.  This clearly illustrates that new teams, as the Kings will no doubt be, find it very tough in Super Rugby in the initial stages.

If SA Rugby is serious about creating a strong platform for the Kings to become competitive, the investment in the region needs to be secured or guaranteed for at least 3 years.

Give the Lions the right tools

To simply drop the Lions in the cold will hurt rugby in the long run.  It is not only important to take note of the influence this may have on supporters and their non-support of SA Rugby and the new franchise, but also how sponsors, investors, equity partners and player agents will change their approach whenever they deal with unions in future.

With the threat of an annual relegation now a reality, and the fact that Super Rugby is a tough competition which can paralyse any team at any time with injuries, these organisations will no longer be interested in investing in any team or union on a long-term basis which could have serious financial consequences in future.

It is therefore imperative that SA Rugby support the Lions to ensure a strong rugby culture remains within the union and region and that they won’t be put in a position where they lose a multitude of players or sponsors but rather be in a position to return to Super Rugby at any time.

Of course most of the work will need to be done by the Lions themselves.  It is simply unacceptable that a union which claimed to be the richest club in the world 15 years ago find themselves in the situation they do right now – and a break from Super Rugby might not be a bad idea to completely clean house and build a new, strong rugby culture in one of South Africa’s richest cities.

Going North not an option

There have been many suggesting that the Lions need to look North to secure a rugby future for themselves, basically leaving Southern Hemisphere rugby and join some European competition.  Now apart from the organizational problems in getting into, or qualifying for those competition in a short space and time, alienating yourself from South African rugby structures will be a massive risk.  Not only will you alienate yourself and your players from SA Rugby and the Springboks, you will also create a massive gap between you and your supporters who simply won’t be able to follow you.

The best way forward for the Lions will be for SA Rugby to help secure them a financial future as a union to continue to develop and contract players outside of Super Rugby, along with the option that the team itself is exposed to high level matches against international opposition and that their top (potential Springbok players) act as a reserve for all the other franchises actively participating in Super Rugby on a draft-type system.

The IRB Nations Cup, matches against all 5 participating South African Super Rugby franchises and the odd warm-up match against other SANZAR teams, matches against the Island teams and 2nd tier countries’ A teams will ensure that youngsters within the union can play a minimum of 10 matches a year against international opposition.  Add entrenchment into South Africa’s top domestic competition, the Currie Cup, and the Lions will have all the tools to not only stay competitive but also contract up and coming youngsters through their system.

With financial security from SA Rugby for a specified amount of time, a draft system for their top players to be absorbed into participating franchises, exposure to international rugby and entrenchment in the top South African competition the Currie Cup, the Lions will be given all the tools to correct the wrongs of the last 10 to 15 years.

A merger will destroy two unions

We went down the road of merging two teams before, and while some might highlight its relative success for reaching the semi-finals at one stage, the long term damage it has done to both teams and unions are still felt today.

Not only will it be unfair for not one, but two teams to compromise to include the Kings, it is simply not a financially viable option.  Super Rugby teams today struggle even when getting a full slice of the Newscorp money pie, if that pie suddenly has to be shared you will have not one, but two teams staring down the barrel.

This however does not mean that an existing team’s top players should or cannot be drafted into an existing franchise (at a cost to the union of course) but taking two identities and trying to merge them into one is not only a risk financially, but will struggle to win support from a deeply provincialistic South African rugby public.

Level playing field for all

As mentioned before the current situation is not a normal, or clear cut.  For the Kings to work and serve the game in South Africa, SA Rugby needs to be serious when investing in them and do so for an extended period.  Similarly, the investment in the Kings should not come at the expense of any other SA union or franchise which means whoever has to enter into a compromise needs to be looked after and supported to ensure their success, or return to success in a couple of years’ time will also be celebrated as a victory for rugby as a collective.

The Kings ‘deserve’ to be playing Super Rugby as much as the Lions do – that said, both teams also ‘deserve’ not to even see the light of Super Rugby given their respective current situations.  But as mentioned above, this is not about entitlement or who deserves what, this is about taking a very real, and very serious problem and finding a solution to ensure rugby ends up the winner.

For once I hope SA Rugby, and all the parties or franchises involved in this situation will be able to sit back and look towards the long-term effect their decision of 2012 will have on the game, and not simply approach this to find a quick-fix solution to silence a couple of politicians or buy some more time.

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  1. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I’ve said this many times … what sponsor is mad enough to invest in rugby teams when SARU is so completely insensitive to the welfare of the teams? The way SARU left the Lions to rot for so many years will always stand as proof. Since the Lions got out of the Cats merger they limped along and got into more an more debt to try to keep the union going. Before the Cats they were the richest union in world rugby. I know it wasn’t just the Cats mess that crippled them financially, but also their own bad investments etc … but SARU did nothing to help … but was always willing to throw money at the EC to win political favour.

    SARU cannot be trusted to look after the good of rugby unions in this country. The Lions is proof. In NZ and Australia the national body gets involved and helps. Not here. If I was a sponsor I would not touch anything run by SARU.

  2. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 am

    If it is so that SARU is just a collection of the unions (all represented) then it is sad to see how the one doesn’t give a damn what happens to the other as long as their own interests are well catered for. What this selfishness do to rugby in the long run we are now starting to see.

  3. avatar biltongbek says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Don’t think any of that is a reality morne.

    firstly how are you going to get the Lions to play in the Pacific Nations cup?

    By virtue of that you are alienating them anyway.

    SARU hasn’t been able to organise a pi… in a brewery let alone assist in the correct manner to find solutions for the Lions or Kings.

    The reality is until 2105 there is no alternative solution.

    It might be worth their while for the Lions to step back during the next three years and concentrate on getting their house in order, rebuilding a team for 2015, when new contracts and new structures can be looked at for the Super rugby tournamnet, which in my opinion is sure to change.

    Let the Kings do their thing, it is inevitable that they are going to suffer huge losses, and I don’t foresee three years as going to help them build or develop a team anyway.

    I was always in favour of having a region solely for the purpose of building and developing balck players. In my opinion it is the best way for us to find the raw talent that is lurking in dark corners all over SA.

    Sadly that will not be the case for the Kings, I bet you nothing will be done to develop black talent, it is all lip service and politics.

    When the Kings join super rugby next year, their excuse for contracting players outside their region will be to be competitive in the tounramnet, three years down the lone they will still use the same excuse.

    If the Kings isn’t used for the purpose of developing young black talent, then this whole exercise is not to the benefit of SA rugby.

  4. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Reply to biltongbek @ 11:18 am:

    IRB Nations Cup – same one the Kings played in last year…

  5. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Guys, how are the Lions going to “rebuild their structures” when their best players leave in droves when not playing SR? How can the Lions attract talent and hold onto players sitting in the cold? The Kings’s whole argument is that they must have s SR guarantee to get good players and sponsors to sign. Same goes for the Lions. MTN will not pay over sponsorship money intended for a SR franchise that doesn’t play SR. Who else will just throw money at them to make things better. Only SARU can do that but SARU will then have to come to the party in a big way to fill the holes left by the disappearance of broadcasting, gate and sponsorship money. And they won’t. because then the other teams will want a handout too. Everyone in SA rugby are looking after themselves first.

  6. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Reply to Morné @ 11:22 am: How will such a low level competition help the Lions. The Lions deserve better than that. We all know they will klap the Kings six-love if they were to play today.

  7. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:44 am

    In my mind (and I have communicated extensively on this in the social media) the following options exist:

    1) Lions + Cheetahs. My “Wildcats” proposal. SR-only merger.
    2) Lions + Bulls. My “RedBulls” proposal. Not a merger but a collaboration … with the Bulls running the show until SR is expanded … as explained in another thread on this site.
    3) Amlin Cup in Europe. Idea too big for most it seems, but I still believe in it.
    4) Lions sit our for who knows how long because Kings will not be relegated in the next three years (forget that idea right now). If this happens the Lions are dead as they will lose too much income to rebuild anything … unless SARU carries the losses (which I cannot see happening).
    5) Let the Kings and Lions play 7 games each and split the home/away/tour games … and the money. Do so until new SR format is implemented. Was told I’m crazy to suggest this.

    Six teams will only go into 5 if options 1 and 2 are implemented. In all cased it comes down to MONEY.

  8. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Reply to Kat @ 11:28 am:

    Let’s be realistic here.

    How has Super Rugby allowed to Lions to develop or retain players?

    The Lions have played their hand at Super Rugby and lost hands down.

    The same argument you are putting forward is the ones the Kings are also putting forward on development and retention of players.

    What counts in the Kings favour is that young, emerging talent is there for all to see, it needs to be enhanced and retained.

    They have what, 5 schools in the top 20?

    By the end of 2015 the current Super Rugby structure/competition/format comes to an end.

    The idea here is to have teams, 6 of them, able to compete at that level by then.

    The Lions have got 3 years to sort their shit out. The Kings have 3 to prove they ‘deserve’ to be there.

  9. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Good piece, Morne.
    The last few days again made me very
    proud of RuggaWorld and the way in
    which things are debated here.

    Reply to Kat @ 11:44 am:
    Lions sit our for who knows how long because Kings will not be relegated in the next three years (forget that idea right now).
    I can’t see the politicians allowing the
    Kings to be relegated – ever.
    Like the farms dished out to people that
    cannot farm and just rape the land will
    also not cease. ANC never admits to its
    And if it saves 1% of the money they steal
    and spend on useless projects, they will
    be able to throw at least R3 billion to
    the Kings.
    Per annum.

  10. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 12:13 pm:

    Thanks Boer.

    My thinking at this goes more to the future – as mentioned above, by 2016 we can field 6 teams – have all 6 at a competitive level when that arrives.

  11. avatar biltongbek says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 11:22 am:

    Perhaps I should focus a little more, eh? :Rule 9:

  12. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 11:59 am: In reply to “How has Super Rugby allowed to Lions to develop or retain players?” the following:

    To list a few that quickly comes to mind …

    1) Bigger sponsorships by bigger companies for those teams playing SR. The brands with the money wants the larger exposure.

    2) Good players want to play SR. Will a player take a contract from a union that does play SR, or one that doesn’t? Some player contracts even demand SR participation or the right to be released.

    3) Slice of the NewsCorp/SS money to buy and retain the best players.

    4) Better exposure for the “brand”.

    5) People don’t really support teams that don’t play SR. Lions would have lost all their supporters if they didn’t play SR.

    6) Players get to tour and play the best teams in the SH.

  13. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Reply to biltongbek @ 12:18 pm:


    Reply to Kat @ 12:26 pm:

    Kat my point is they had all that and did squat with it. There comes a time to own up to your failures and accept the consequences.

    The timing is shit for the Lions – as I said, if this was 2002 we would be discussing the Bulls but you know, life sometimes ain’t fair.

    In my article above I highlight some key issues;

    Financial support for the Lions which in just one form can come from a cut of the Super Rugby pie (even though they do not compete).

    SA Rugby promised to secure sponsors for the Spears in 2006, they can do the same for the Lions.

    With these funds the Lions can not only contract, but secure services of their current top players.

    Their top players can be absorbed into the 5 current Super Rugby franchises, at the discretion of SA Rugby, the Lions and the player himself, at a cost which will generate more revenue for the Lions. Not only will the Lions hang onto their current top players, those players will feature in Super Rugby.

    That takes care of your points 1, 2, 3, and 6.

    As for points 4 and 5 – how much damage is being done to the Lions brand currently? How much of it is their own fault?

    If the Lions are serious about repairing it then with money, security (for their top players) and without the pressure of Super Rugby they can build a new culture in the next 3 years using the VC and Currie Cup (with the added international matches I mentioned above).

    The Lions can then finally claim to be on a 3-year plan to ensure by 2016, then can re-enter Super Rugby as the union they once were.

  14. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 11:44 am:

    I like the European Idea . Something different . I would however suggest that the lions still have home games in SA . We have seen Sarence want to come in play a game in SA .

    Look it wont be sorted out in one day . But it is something we have to look at .

    I feel this might also be a good move for sponsors . We wont have any more 6 o clock in the morning games . So more exposure for sponsors .

    Saru could be smart .. why not form 2 sides . The lions and another team and send them both to Europe .. Its really a market that should be explored

  15. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 12:42 pm: Morné, I’ve always said that if the right money is put on the table many things become possible. If SARU is willing to cover all losses due to Lions not participating then it is workable solution to relegate them, but it will be for three years and not one as the Kings will not be allowed out for at least three years (which I support as it is only fair).

    Let’s say the Lions players are allowed to play SR for other franchises … (1) what will happen if/when these Lions players become stars for their “new” teams? They will be offered more than what the Lions offer them and they will leave. That will not help the Lions rebuilding at all. (2) Will other teams not rather give their own players SR exposure instead of Lions players knowing who will play for them in the CC? (3) At present 30 Lions players are exposed to SR, but if players are rented out fewer will get the exposure and where does development happen better than in SR? What the Kings are saying.

    I honestly cannot see any good coming from a relegated Lions team.

  16. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Reply to Zibbie @ 12:53 pm: Zibbie, the idea is for teams like the Lions, Griquas and Boland to play in Europe. That will create a lot more depth in SA rugby. My proposal was for franchised provinces to aim to have two teams, one to play SR and the other in European league (Amlin Challenge). In Gauteng it will be Bulls in SR and Lions in Europe. In WC it will be Stormers in SR and Boland in Europe. In FS/NC area it will be Cheetahs in SR and Griquas in Europe. Examples only.

  17. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Reply to Zibbie @ 12:53 pm:

    in what competition in EU?
    HC you need to qualify for and other EU teams won’t give up their spot!
    Amlin cup? Same deal.
    IRB Nations Cup? Is a nothing tournament with developing countries.

    Maybe expand the Robo direct comp with Wales/Italy/Ireland/Scotland – add 2 SA teams and this way they can try and qualify for the Amlin/HC… However I can’t see these teams having the budget to fly to SA every other game so the SA teams need to be based in EU. Innsbruck is the perfect place :whistling:

  18. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 1:01 pm:

    Whats good for the goose – so yes 3 years in my view for both teams.

    It is the Lions responsibility to secure their players on contract for specified periods. Players leave teams for other ones all the time, no-one can stop that.

    If a player is contracted at the Lions, plays Super Rugby and is happy with his union he is contracted at – why will he leave? The Lions will need ensure their players are happy as any team does.

    Some punches the Lions will have to take on the chin – many will say they deserve it for running the union into the ground. My point is don’t give them a knock-out punch – it serves absolutely no-one. But the Lions management and admin needs to now man-up a bit too imo.

    Give them the tools to start again and built something meaningful.

    Let me ask you a question and be honest. Let’s say all of the above does happen, Lions are relegated but with support as suggested.

    Will you still support your team?

  19. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 1:08 pm: Reply to Kat @ 1:01 pm:

    that sounds good to me . Will improve Sa dept

    Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:09 pm:

    Im not saying it will be easy to do . maybe work out some sort of deal with the organizers. No reason why we cant reach some sort of agreement . Fact is the Lions need to play something in order for them to retain players . If they dont they will loose players . Players like Taute and Jantjies wont sit around for a year . they will go where they will play

  20. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:09 pm:

    I would always support the Lions no matter what ..

    Reason why i dont watch HK is Lions dont play it . ..

    so if Lions stop playing SR and start playing HK it will switch around :P

  21. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Reply to Zibbie @ 1:23 pm:

    With the right set of administrators, the right plan (and of course financial support) I see no reason the Lions cannot discover more Jantjies’, or Taute’s – hell SR is no guarantee of keeping players like that as the Lions is proof of that in recent years!

    The Lions need to change their culture from the bottom right through to the top. The union needs a complete overhaul.

    If Jake White can create a winning team out of a bunch of no-names at the Brumbies in 18 months – nothing stops the Lions to build a formidable squad of players over the next 3 years (superstars or not) to hit the ground running in 2016.

  22. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:28 pm:

    The problem is the Lions keep on discovering new players and then loosing them to other unions . Like i said on Twitter the Lions have now finally began to hold on to some players thats worth while.

    Also comparing the Brumbies to the Lions is a bit harsh i think . The Lions players are under pressure ATM . And i dont blame them .

    Although i feel Mitch have not done to bad . The Lions won the CC under him (Yes i know without any springBoks, but compared to other years with no Springboks the Lions showed some improvement). I feel if the Lions did not have the Kings sword hanging over them they would have played much better .

    Give our current squad a year or 2 and they will improve immensely . Sadly the Lions dont have a few years .. so yea ..

  23. avatar Timeo says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I cannot see that their will be much appetite from NZ and AUS for a S18 in 3 years either. The competition will be too long and clunky and in all 3 countries the extra cost will be more than the extra revenue.

    Once the Lions are out it is likely to be permanent. JHB is a city that would never have been if not for the gold. The gold is gone, the city is in decline. The axis of Gauteng now runs from Sandton to Pretoria.

  24. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Reply to Timeo @ 1:38 pm:

    Lets hope the sea never dries up then ..

  25. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Reply to Zibbie @ 1:38 pm:

    On Jake White I think a couple of issues are at play.

    Firstly, Jake is a bloody good coach whether you like the guy or not.

    He has been involved with the Brumbies since May last year. He did his scouting in local structures, devised a plan and started building something from nothing before the SR 2011 was even over.

    He got some excellent assistants in to help him. Jones, Fisch, Larkham, Gregan (all part of a rich Brumbies history when they were a top team – they are the Brumbies) and Calder.

    The first thing he focused on imo was the Brumbies culture – and he did bloody well to get a couple of legends in to help him achieve that – get some pride going.

    He then managed to forge a tight-knit unit.

    He has managed this process expertly with all the assistance his administrators could give him which financially was not a lot.

    For the Lions I don’t think Mitchell has this ability – sorry I just don’t rate him. Also, Lions administration need to get their shit together.

    Yes I know you will say White and the Brumbies at least plays in Super Rugby but the point is not in what competition these boys play in, it is what is possible if you put your mind, and the right structures in place.

    I have all the sympathy for the Kings sword hanging over the union, I even wrote an article about that – but that is the reality of the situation. They did not have this sword at the start of the season – the Cheetahs could also have been here right now – it got worse as the season progressed.

    Two things important for me here.

    a) The Lions must accept some responsibility for their failures in the last decade. But we cannot see them shut their doors – we must ensure they are ready to re-enter Super Rugby in 3 years time.

    b) If we do have the Kings in Super Rugby then by fuck let’s at least give them the best chance to succeed. Remember the political bullshit is not the fault of the players or coaches who just want to play the beautiful game. Let’s give them the best shot to do this by giving them a 3-year gig – but they are then on their own (as will the Lions be when SARU’s financial hand outs stop).

    In both scenarios we demand accountability and giving each team the best possible chance to serve the game of rugby as a collective.

  26. avatar Duiwel says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Nice post miertjie,
    agree on that one side will be relegated
    so up to Transvaal to get back on it.
    They have noone to blame exept themselves.

    As for ep,
    the snuck into the back door with
    their political card.
    Hope they get snotted.
    All the time.
    Fuck ‘em.

  27. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:50 pm:

    True true . Look JW is doing well . i must admit that . A lot better then i expected .

    But the problem is how do you get the Lions to improve ? IF they dont play SR nobody would want to play for them ALLA Kings .

    Currently they have a bunch off no names . I feel getting rid of some of the old players might help . But i fear that they might be (very closely) followed by the younger players who have the potential .

    What would 3 years out of SR mean for players like Taute and Jantjies chance to play boks ? it would kill the slim chance they have

    i dont know .. my best hope is still playing in Europe .

  28. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Reply to Zibbie @ 1:58 pm:

    Europe is not the answer – coaches (Bok) are reluctant to even go there and pick seasoned Boks! Where the Boks play 70% of their ‘tests’ against SH teams what indication does a team in the NH have playing against players (and in conditions and structures) he will not come up against in tests (Castle 4 Nations)?

    Look it is not easy and I am not for one minute suggesting it will be. I also don’t know for how long the current players contracts are signed for???

    But as suggested above their top players should get absorbed into current Super Rugby teams so there is no fear of them losing out on possible Bok selection (and let’s be honest there is not that many there).

    I am also of the opinion that other franchises will be more than happy to draft a Taute, Jantjies, etc into their super rugby teams but those guys remain contracted to the Lions (or even SA Rugby).

    The rest of the boys play the 10 odd international games a year in addition to be guaranteed entrenchment into the CC for 3 years no matter what.

  29. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 2:04 pm:

    hahah , hey im trying to keep hope alive here :P

    Most contracts come to an end over the net year . i understand that a few snr player contracts are running out at the end of this season .

    I dont think loaning players out to other unions will be the answer . Be honest . Taute wont come back after a season at the Sharks . Elton wont come back after a season in the cape :P

    im looking for a way where the Lions still play some sort of comp even though it is not SR . I think playing in Europe will be better than not playing any rugby at all (in terms of keeping players ect . )

    But we will see ..

  30. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:09 pm: Morné asked: “Let me ask you a question and be honest. Let’s say all of the above does happen, Lions are relegated but with support as suggested. Will you still support your team?”

    How can I support them if they’re not playing SupeRugby? For SR I will have to get another team (as thing stand probably Stormers) and this is now where the shit hits the fan … A person cannot jump from one team to another between CC and SR seasons for three years, supporting the Lions in the one and WP/Stormers in the other. I’m not like that. This will result in me either not following SR at all or supporting the same team in both competitions. I hate to be in this position. Say If I go for Stormers/WP I can never return to Lions if they were to return to SR. What a freakin mess!

  31. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 2:40 pm:

    WP was relegated from Super Rugby once. Did nothing for their support.

  32. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    When a merger of sorts happen I can at least support the new team as many of the players will play for the Lions in the CC … and they do represent me (and more).

    Relegation means no SR for that sport entity and for the fans to cheer for. That, in my mind, will be a disaster even if the Lions were to get money. How can a team keep its supporters without playing SR in any way (not even like the small unions being represented by larger unions in the franchise system). The Lions will be completely OUT.

    I would much rather see the “RedBull” arrangement then where the Bulls get to use our players in exchange for some recognition and a game or two at EP. That is still a very workable option and one that will provide far more identity integrity. Lions fans can relate to one Gaunteng team.

  33. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 2:46 pm: Once does not equal what will most likely be three years Morné. No way will SARU be allowed to give Kings one year only.

  34. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Maybe the Bulls must just buy the Lions outright and get done with it. Then the fans will at least KNOW where they stand. Go back to how it was before Noord-Transvaal broke away. One Gauteng team. End of the story.

  35. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 2:51 pm:

    Let me understand you quickly.

    You would rather see a team seize to exist, close its doors, than wait 3 years for them to return to SR?

  36. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:09 pm:

    Saffa teams playing in Europe is still born.
    Morne gave the reasons in his article.
    Just get that straw out of your minds.

  37. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 2:56 pm: Yes if we’re going to get another half-baked half-pregnant solution SARU is famous for. What I expect. I genuinely do not see SARU handing the Lions money when the sit out for three years to keep things going. The Lions will immediately lose a huge SR sponsorship (and we haven’t even talked about how MTN is going to respond to this) … will SARU cover the loss? No way I see that happening.

  38. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 1:28 pm:

    If Jake White can create a winning team out of a bunch of no-names at the Brumbies in 18 months

    . . . then the answer is obvious:
    Get Jake over here!


  39. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 2:59 pm: Who says Morné is right? It’s his opinion only.

  40. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:04 pm: The Lions has Jake, but then Jake and his partner had a huge fallout and things fell apart.

  41. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    “had”, sorry.

  42. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Reply to Timeo @ 1:38 pm:

    JHB is a city that would never have been if not for the gold. The gold is gone, the city is in decline.

    So Pinktoria had no gold, yet . . .

  43. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:07 pm: Joburg has long ago moved on from a reliance on the gold industry. The Services (incl banking) and Technology industries are now the core of Joburg.

  44. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 2:40 pm:

    Say If I go for Stormers/WP I can never return to Lions if they were to return to SR. What a freakin mess!

    Can you honestly see them returning – ever?
    Make the switch now.

  45. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:04 pm:

    Well I cannot speak for SA Rugby, what I propose is what I believe is a realistic way forward.

    Reply to Kat @ 3:05 pm:

    It is not about being right, it is about the reality such a move entails.

    Every single European competition has a qualification process bound to other European competitions. For the ERC or any European rugby body to consider getting in a team from another country not competing in the qualifying competitions for their main competition has to make commercial sense for them – these guys are not about hand outs like us.

    Not team will simply step aside in any of these competitions to accommodate the Lions.

    So the question is what does including the Lions in any of these competitions bring to the table financially? Or what does it bring to enrich the competition itself?

    From where I sit, very little to none.

    Second thing you need to consider is the financial implication for the Lions themselves. How would they be able to afford to travel to Europe all the time, and will other teams be willing to travel to Africa in the middle of our summer to play games?

    What is in it for local sponsors and investors where only about 20% of these games are televised in this country where they have little to zero footprint in European countries?

    You are looking at this from the benefit this will be for the Lions (to compete in Europe). You need to stop and ask yourself what benefit the lowest placed Super Rugby team will bring the the Heineken Cup or any European Cup competition? What is in it for the ERC?

  46. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:05 pm:

    Well, he has the facts stacked in his corner.
    As for supporters: Will you be organising a
    supporters group for the matches they play
    in Europa?

  47. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 3:13 pm: Morné, I genuinely do not want to go over those things again. I have done so on many occasions on several forums already. I believe our future lies in Europe and I believe my reasons have merit but it will again result in a long debate.

  48. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:18 pm:

    Well, if they have merit – start answering
    Morne’s questions in post #45.

    Sorry Kat, can’t even start buying into
    your idea.
    And I honestly can’t see Saru/Lions/sponsor/Europe doing it.

  49. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    My Europe proposal is now met with many objections and even laughed-off. Some day someone is going to get it right and then everybody will say: Why didn’t we do this long ago?”. Watch. That is why there will always be room for the Facebooks and Googles of this world.

  50. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:22 pm: As I said, I’m not even going to start no matter how tempting it might be to do so.

  51. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Rugby is suffocating in a very negative atmosphere where creative thinking is not appreciated. I’ve seen this over and over. Dinosaur culture that will forever result in small mindsets that will never take rugby to become one of the worlds big league sports.

  52. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    What I hear all the time: “Oh that will never work in rugby” … “Crazy idea” … “They will never accept that” … “Rugby doesn’t work like that, never will”. I can go on.

    In the mean time back at the ranch a bunch of dinosaurs gather to figure out where to go with the problems they face … but let there not be found a man among them that thinks outside of the box! God forbid.

    You ask people to think about a new identity that can unite the Lions and Cheetahs … and what do you get back … “Oh no, the Cats will never work they are too different”. That’s all. Instead I’m putting things like “The Joburg, West Rand, North West, Kimberley, and Northern Freestate areas are know for MINING! They all have this in common. Bloem is the only exception in this huge area. Surely a new brand/identity can be formed around this?”. Al I get is “no … no … no … no”. We live with borders drawn in 19-voetsêk and will not get our minds off it. Oh, I love the disruptors!

  53. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:41 pm:

    Nobody says a move to Europe won’t work. But if it is not done as a collective from SA Rugby there is nothing in it for any organising body from Europe.

    Unless the Lions pack up and move to Europe lock, stock and barrel and go at it on their own I cannot see this as a commercially viable option.

    Again I think you are looking at this to come up with an option to benefit the Lions and ensure their survival. That is one side of the coin. The most important aspect of such a move is will they be allowed to play there and if so, how?

  54. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:41 pm:

    I am arguing this point from only one angle. Show me the commercial viability of this not only from the Lions (what they would benefit) but from the ERC and why they would consider it.

    Will they simply accommodate them and cut one of their own teams? Will they allow the Lions to qualify and what would be the mechanism for this given every single team is based in Europe with the Lions in SA?

    I am always open to new ideas.

  55. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve also tried to fart against thunder.
    Many times.
    Never succeeded.

  56. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 3:13 pm:

    ask to join the RaboDirect competition (old Celtic league) and qualify through those means!
    That is a viable option. It use to be only Welsh/Irish and Scottish teams and now the Italians have joined… If they take a team that is based in EU then they can qualify for Amlin/HC rugby.

  57. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:17 pm:

    there are more Saffa supporters in EU than you may think – Sarries are benefitting in the UK of that so if a genuine Saffa team plays in EU they will flok to support!

  58. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 4:01 pm:

    eat more beans!!

  59. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Reply to Morné @ 3:51 pm:

    make the base IBK! I’ll help! :whistling:

  60. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 3:41 pm:

    “The Joburg, West Rand, North West, Kimberley, and Northern Freestate areas

    Sounds more feasible – in the long run.
    But maybe the should have gone that
    route a few years ago.
    Will the Cheetahs buy into such a merger?
    Maybe by force.

  61. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 4:04 pm:

    Het ek jou nou ook wakker gepoep?

  62. avatar Vonkiedool says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    A very good column, Morné. There has been too much emotion involved in this argument up till now. Let us hope sense prevail in the end.
    I have a suggestion to some of your ‘commentators” here. Why carry on about playing in Europe??? The Lions can play in a competition in Joh’burg against Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The wonderful thing about that is that it would be like home games to those two teams too. And you’ll fill the stadium again. Supersport is already showing the rugby in those two countries anyway. Problem solved (as far as I am concerned.)

  63. avatar Timeo says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:07 pm:

    It may be hard for you to believe, but Pretoria is where it is because someone found it a pleasant enough spot to build a town. :-)

    Still is.
    Jo’burg never was.

  64. avatar Timeo says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Reply to Kat @ 2:51 pm:

    Bulls will pay R1. :twisted:

  65. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 4:02 pm:

    That means they would have to be based in Europe.

    I seriously cannot see how this would benefit the Lions or more importantly their fans or stakeholders.

  66. avatar Morné says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Reply to Vonkiedool @ 4:20 pm:


    When I am not out to deliberately piss of the Bulls supporters and try and make sense every now and then! :twisted:

  67. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Im not saying that Europe will work . i know there will be many obstacles . and lots of things to sort out and think about . But just because it wont be easy shouldent mean the option should not be explored . Call somebody and ask them ‘can we maybe talk about playing with you guys’. the worst they can say is no bugger of you bastards . then we bugger off . but they have so many Safas there anyways . so it might not be a bad option for them as well ? but who knows . Hopefully KdK is open minded enough ..

  68. avatar Kat says:
    May 23rd, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Dankie Asblik … :-) . Net soos jy sê. Begin met ERC praat met die hulp van SARU en IRB. Verwag nie onmiddelike oplossings nie. Laat daar daadwerklik gekyk word na ‘n manier wat dit kan werk. Ek glo vas Europa soek SA spanne in hul kompetisies en borge sal belangtel om deur ons spanne in Europa blootstelling te kry. Die idee is nie om deur laer vlak Europese kompetisies te kwalifiseer nie maar deur vier van ons spanne te “entrench” net soos met SR gedoen word. Ons speel on plaaslike rugby in CB en VC.c

  69. avatar Kevin_rack says:
    May 24th, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Reply to Boertjie @ 2:59 pm: Sarries?

    You could find as many reason not to do it as to do it. Depends on your mentality.

    South Afria needs to go to Europe, not leaving S15 behind, but as many of our players migrate there and not to the ANZacs.
    We need to lead in expanding the game globally and driving the single season otherwise if we leave it up to the ANzacs they will only look after themsleves.
    We have got all our eggs in one basket and it time to diversify our crappy alliances.

    We have the best oppurtunity to get a team in Europe it and its should be done now. I for one would watch the Lions in Europe and I know many many more supporters disillusioned with SANZOO bullshit who would too.

    Imagine watching French club teams in South Africa.

    GO LIONS GO NORTH please for the benefit of South African rugby.

  70. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 24th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Reply to Kat @ 9:33 pm:

    Mag ons Afrikaans praat hierso ? heheh

    Ek dink ons borge sal die blootstelling daar geniet . soos ek al gese het geen 6 uur in die oggend games nie . Dit beteken meer mense wakker en dit beteken meer advertensie .

    As jy kyk na Europa is daar seker besighede wat globaal is . as jy dink aan Vodacom (Vodaphone) , Mc Donalds , Nandos , British Airways ect. Ek weet MTN is in Nigiere ook . Nie seker of hulle ook in Europa is nie maar mens moet een of ander plan kan uitwerk .

    Maar ek het nou die storie by meer as een persoon gehoor . so ek dink beslis die moontlikheid is daar . weereens dit gaan nie maklik wees nie . But why not give it a shot .

    I Have a question . How does Limpopo work ? i know the form part of the Bulls . But are they a union on its own ? like Border ?

  71. avatar Vonkiedool says:
    May 24th, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Limpopo het in die ou dae ‘n rugbyspan gehad. Verre Noord-Tranvaal. Maar dinge het maar agter-uitgegaan daar. Hulle gaan blykbaar die einde van die maand die hele provinsie op ‘n bankrotveiling verkoop. As iemand nie die hele plek steel voor dan nie. hulle moet dit egter gou doen – sodra die laaste renoster gepoach is daar, gaan die Chinese nie eers meer belangstel in die plek nie.

  72. avatar Zibbie says:
    May 24th, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Reply to Vonkiedool @ 8:00 am:

    En ek dog dit gaan rof by die Lions 8O

  73. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 24th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Reply to Kevin_rack @ 5:18 am:

    What you are visioning could also lead
    to the final demise of test rugby -
    relegated down the order, like in soccer.
    Anyway, it’s on the cards no matter what.

    If we want to contribute to expand the
    game globally, we should go to Canada
    and the US. Europe is already

    Reply to Vonkiedool @ 8:00 am:
    Hier by ons word die drendeksels met saamgeperste
    hout vervang, met ‘n staalstrokie wat bo-oor
    geanker is.
    Nou steel hulle die staalstrokies.

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