Lions out of Super Rugby

August 16, 2012
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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday confirmed South Africa’s participants in Vodacom Super Rugby at a General Meeting of the member provinces.

The top four teams in the South African Conference in 2012 (DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls, The Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs) will join the Southern Kings in the 2013 tournament.

The teams were confirmed after the General Meeting accepted a proposal first tabled by the Executive Council in January. The proposal was that: “The franchise occupying the lowest log position of the five franchises at the end of 2012 would be relegated.”

The MTN Lions, who finished bottom of the South African Conference, will have the chance to regain their status in 12 months’ time. The Executive Council had previously determined that the bottom team in 2013 would play in a two-legged promotion and relegation series against the relegated franchise. The promotion/relegation series will also be in place in 2014 and 2015 – at which point the broadcast contract expires.

“All rugby provinces have been consistently in support of the need for an Eastern Cape team in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU. “That decision was first taken in 2005 but their inclusion has twice been postponed.

“We made a commitment to the Kings to include them in 2013 and rugby has delivered on that commitment. The franchise represents more clubs than any other region – apart from the Stormers – and contains numerous leading rugby schools. It has been starved of top-class rugby competition for a decade and a half and now it has the chance to show what it can do.”

Mr Hoskins said that SANZAR’s decision to grant the 15th franchise to Melbourne in 2011 – rather than the Southern Kings – had created a dilemma for SARU. He said that the organisation and players had wanted a “rugby solution” to accommodate six franchises in five places and this had been delivered, as challenging as it was for the relegated team.

“The provinces asked for a rugby solution and we believe that this was the fairest and most transparent method to respond to what is undoubtedly a less than ideal situation,” he said. “We also canvassed Vodacom Super Rugby players before the start of the season, through the Players’ Association, and this was their preferred mechanism.

“We will continue to push the case for early expansion within SANZAR. Negotiations on a new broadcasting rights deal will begin shortly and the inclusion of six South African franchises will be firmly top of our agenda.”

Jurie Roux, the CEO of SARU, said that the decision to apply a promotion and relegation system from 2013 was standard practice in sport.

“We operate promotion and relegation in all our Absa Currie Cup competitions, with the bottom-placed team being relegated unless it wins a play off,” said Roux.

“We lobbied hard with our partners in Australia and New Zealand to expand to 16 teams with the inclusion of a sixth South African franchise from next season, but they had no incentive to change what has been a winning format.

“Our strategic goal is to have six strong franchises covering the whole of South Africa and this decision keeps all of them in play on an annual basis.”

The Lions president, Kevin de Klerk, responded in a statement with the following:

“We are extremely disappointed at this result. This is a very unfortunate decision which will result in a team taking part in a competition without needing to qualify on rugby merits. We will take time to consider this decision and then to plan our response that best protects our players, staff, stakeholders and supporters”.

A press conference will be held by the Golden Lions Rugby Union next Tuesday, 21 August 2012 regarding the above matter.

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14 Comments

  1. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Egads… this was announced on the ‘live’ Rugby Club earlier and I thought they must have got the short-end-of-the-stick…

  2. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I can just hear the agents shuffling their contact books quick-smart…

    So does this mean that SARU decided rather to include them than gift them the R45 mill?

  3. avatar Ollie says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    This will shake things up.

    I see the poison dwarf will be on Ballz Radio in the next hour, and this will be the topic.

    Not sure what fingers Keo has in this pie.

  4. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Reply to Ollie @ 2:13 pm:

    You’d have to wonder considering Foxsport’s Rugby Club broke this before Voldy and anyone else live on their show…

  5. avatar DavidS says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Game over Leeutjies…

    Actually the Kings are going to do the same as them…

    Just not enough cash and players to justify a fifth SA team.

    If the Lions can see out this season and retain their core players they should actually be okay to survive the year in the wilderness.

  6. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Reply to DavidS @ 2:28 pm:

    How can they possibly retain the core of their players now?

    And surely sponsor’s are going to follow suit?

    But then again this is only 1st division CC side we are talking about and I doubt even with a few mercenaries they will be competitive at the end of next year…

    Banana’s anyone?

  7. avatar Boertjie says:
    August 16th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Jurie Roux, the CEO of SARU, said that the decision to apply a promotion and relegation system from 2013 was standard practice in sport.
    ——–
    Yet this principle is not applied in this case?
    De Klerk is correct in this instance.

    It has been starved of top-class rugby competition for a decade and a half
    ——-
    Yet they have the most clubs outside of the Stormers?
    Why then? Maybe because they are too fkn useless to
    even win the Vodacom or play CC?

  8. avatar namboer says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Hoessit, Tjops.

    Can’t say it’s that big a surprise, still not good to hear and I don’t think good for SA rugby either.
    Not that the Kings shouldn’t play, just really sad to see a union like the Lions go down the drain, so to speak.

    I suppose it won’t stop here, not by a long shot. Kan net nie sien dat die Leeus baie skietgoed het nie, behalwe hulle lae resultate is daar ook die ander klomp goed. Ai, groot ai.
    :shake:

    Voorspoed vir al die indersteuners.

  9. avatar out wide says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Sad day for Lions rugby, sad day for SA Rugby. The whole thing has been badly handled by the suits and all the pc bs is annoying. I am sorry if these are your words Morne, but had to laugh at

    “The top four teams in the South African Conference in 2012 (DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls, The Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs) will join the Southern Kings in the 2013 tournament.”

    Er .. isn’t the other way around?

  10. avatar Craven says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 8:17 am

    We have seen for the last few years that 5 SA teams in Superugby is just not sustainable, we do not have enough quality players.

    How on earth can we work towards a 6th team in 2016? Madness, just plain madness.

    We are diluting this competition big time, just like the Ausies have been doing for two years now.

  11. avatar DavidS says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Reply to Craven @ 8:17 am:

    WE do

    It’s just that MANY of them are in Europe…

  12. avatar Boertjie says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Reply to DavidS @ 8:46 am:

    And they are in Europe because we
    don’t have the money to keep them
    here.
    How is that going to change?

  13. avatar Duiwel says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Self inflicted.

  14. avatar DavidS says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Not just the lack of money Boertjie but also the racist policies of the sports structures.

    We all jubilate about the performances of our Olympic champs failing to realize that most of them were white athletes and most of them come from training camps in the US… simply because “equity” political expediency refuses to spend money on ALL our athletes.

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