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Whiteley injured again

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Lions and Springbok captain Warren Whiteley face yet another setback from a recurring knee injury.

Whiteley started training on Monday but felt discomfort and his knee swelled up overnight.

He was supposed to made his comeback against the Waratahs this weekend but he was send for a scan.

 

Although team doctor Rob Collins suggested it was a precautionary measure, it remains to be seen if Whiteley will be able to join the squad later on in their tour.

This is another huge setback not just for Whiteley but also the Lions who are traveling for the next few weeks.

 

Lions have their captain back for tour

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The Lions have named a strong squad to tour Australasia with captain Whiteley back fit again to lead the team.

Nic Groom, who has joined the Lions will also make the tour.

The Lions will face the Waratahs (Sydney, April 20), Reds (Brisbane, April 28), Hurricanes (Wellington, May 5) and Highlanders (Dunedin, May 12).

Regular scrumhalf Ross Cronje is still sidelined with a rib injury and will miss the tour, along with promising winger Aphiwe Dyantyi, who is struggling with a pectoral muscle injury.

Lions touring squad: Jacobie Adriaanse, Cyle Brink, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ashlon Davids, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ruan Dreyer, Lourens Erasmus, Andries Ferreira, Nic Groom, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Johannes Jonker, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Francois Mostert, Marvin Orie, Marnus Schoeman, Dillon Smit, Dylan Smith, Kwagga Smith, Madosh Tambwe, Jacques Van Rooyen, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley

Overcoming adversity

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Family tragedies have put rugby into perspective for Jaco Kriel, writes CLINTON VAN DER BERG for SARugbyMag

‘I haven’t spoken about this, it’s hard,’ says Jaco Kriel in a modest office at the Lions training facility at Joburg Stadium.

As the sound of players working out nearby thrums through the thin walls, he settles in before revealing that his father, Herman, is fighting motor neuron disease, the affliction that killed Joost van der Westhuizen and Tinus Linee, and has Doddie Weir, the former Scotland lock, in its deadly grip.

The devastation is doubly difficult for Kriel to bear. His father has been an ever-present support, particularly when Kriel lost his mother, sister and brother in an unfathomably wretched three-year period while he was still at high school in Standerton.

‘My dad was so strong for me. Coping, with his help, was a blessing from the top. It was a tough thing to deal with in school. Somehow I got through … we got through.’

Kriel’s honesty is unvarnished, in keeping with his personality. What you see is what you get from the vibrant Lions and Springbok loose forward.

The tragedies aren’t something he dwells on, but you sense that the deaths of mom Jeanette, brother Stanley and sister Elaine give him a grounding that helps anchor him to the ‘real’ world.

He’s modest about his achievements, among them being shortlisted as South Africa’s Player of the Year a few months ago, and feels strongly about being more than just a rugby player.

He’s in the property business with some rugby pals – buying, renting, selling and developing – ever mindful of the need to craft a career that will endure. He knows rugby can end at any moment, especially as he is at the tailend of recovery after the first major surgery of his career.

The injury to his left shoulder provided a stark reminder of his mortality. Until he wrecked himself playing against Australia, he was flying, laying waste to opponents and living the charmed life of an elite player. Rehabilitation, and being away from the heat of action, has since taught him to look inward, to take nothing for granted, which is why he’s more eager than ever to work his way back into contention.

Unaccustomed to injury, he’s not exactly sure how he should feel, but he’s nonetheless energised by the thought of working with an intellectual maverick like Rassie Erasmus.

‘We had a difficult time with the Boks last year, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Rassie brings. It’s exciting,’ he says. ‘I’ve been blessed to work under Johan Ackermann and Swys de Bruin, guys who know him well. He has a real rugby brain.’

Aged 28, Kriel is sharply aware of the need to conserve his body, which is why his dalliance with Japan, where he played three seasons for the Kubota Spears in the off-season, is a thing of the past. He enjoyed the experience, but has learned the need to rest and refresh, even if it means losing out on loads of cash.

Chasing the Bok No 6 jersey last year, Kriel was encouraged by Ackermann to set higher standards. Yet, it was an inauspicious start as the Lions narrowly escaped with a win in their opening Super Rugby match, in Bloemfontein.

Ackermann blasted them and Kriel was discomfited. ‘I decided then to step up; to be the Jaco Kriel I can be,’ he says.

The Lions flourished and although they eventually lost the final at home, it was a remarkable run. Having played flyhalf until Grade 10, he isn’t as natural a six as he sometimes appears. Since school he’s tended to play   a wide game at openside, but has since been drawn to play more towards the ball, spoiling in defence.

Given the way the Lions play, though, the difference between six and seven is less stark, because they haven’t always found it necessary to house a big ball-carrier at blindside.

His versatility is evident when you consider that when he got his first Test start, in his seventh international, against France at Ellis Park in 2017, he packed down at blindside, with Siya Kolisi opposite. And that’s how it stayed until he was injured, in his 11th Test, in Perth a few months later.

He’s heard the talk of Erasmus opting for a Warren Whiteley-Duane Vermeulen combination at eight and seven, which excites him. He’ll muck in anywhere he’s required.

He’s now at an age where life has given him perspective. This explains why he feels so strongly about the need for players to have balance in their lives. Even though Kriel has a girlfriend, a physiotherapist (which must come in handy), he shares a house on Johannesburg’s east side with Andries Coetzee. Former housemate Faf de Klerk recently decamped to the UK, so there’s a little more room nowadays.

He’s especially tight with Coetzee and Whiteley, but reckons the Lions are more a brotherhood than a squad, so friendship and fun comes easily to the group at large.

He plays golf when he can, off a 17, checking out local courses like Kempton Park and Silver Lakes; whichever offers the best deal.

Kriel knows South Africa’s depth at loose forward is formidable, which explains his philosophy of not keeping up, but rather setting the trend.

His goal as a youngster was to play for the Boks, but he ought to have aimed higher.

‘I should have dreamed of 50 caps, maybe even 100,’ he says with a laugh. ‘I want to be the best in my position and when I leave, it must be on my terms. But, more than that, I want a happy wife and kids.

‘Rugby has given me a good foundation. I’m grateful.’

– This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of SA Rugby magazine. The May issue is on sale 23 April.

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O! Captain my Captain

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The Lions will go on tour next week with the good news that Warren Whiteley, Ross Cronje, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Aphiwe Dyantyi are all expected to be cleared to play.

Although the Lions got back to the old winning ways against the Stormers last weekend at home they struggled since Whiteley got injured.

He plays a vital role within the team and on the field which was missed by not just the players but also the coach.

The Lions will leave on the 17 April to play the Waratahs, Reds, Hurricanes and Highlanders.

The Lions have a bye this weekend for a well earned rest before the tour.

 

Lions will have to do without Dyantyi

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As if the poor performances from the Lions was not enough for their supporters that had to learn that the talented youngster Aphiwe Dyantyi has been ruled out of their clash with the Crusaders.

In fact, Dyantyi, who is the tied for top spot on the South African tryscorers charts alongside team-mate Malcolm Marx with five tries, will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a torn pectoral muscle.

It’s a cruel blow for the 23-year-old who has been a revelation for the Lions in his maiden Super Rugby season.

The match is a repeat of last year’s final which was won by the Crusaders 25-17, giving the star side from New Zealand their eighth Super Rugby title.

Kick-off on Sunday, April 1 is at 14:30.

Meanwhile, in better news for the Lions, loose forward Robert Kruger, who is recovering from concussion, and utility back Howard Mnisi, who sustained a knee contusion, should both be available for selection this weekend.

The Lions will also welcome back scrumhalf Ross Cronje and lock Andries Ferreira this week, both of whom missed last weekend’s trip to Buenos Aires – where they lost 49-35 to the Jaguares – with Cronje having recovered from a rib injury and Ferreira from a back spasm.

Prop Jacobie Adriaanse is also fit again after a badly sprained ankle.

Lions without Cronje, Ferreira and Adriaanse

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The Lions will be without Ross Cronjé, Andries Ferreira and Jacobie Adriaanse who have been ruled out of the Lions’ next match against the Jaguares due to injuries.

The Lions confirmed that the trio will not travel with the squad to Buenos Aires this week. Cronjé (ribs), Ferreira (back), and Adriaanse (ankle) all sustained injuries in the recent 40-38 victory over the Sunwolves.

The Lions’ touring side will be announced on Tuesday, while the team to play the Jaguares will be confirmed on Thursday.

Lions sign Paarl Boys Erasmus

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Paarl Boys’ director of rugby Sean Erasmus will join the Lions on 1 November.

Erasmus has had great success with Paarl Boys’, who achieved a 43-match winning streak under him, while becoming SA’s No 1-ranked school.

‘Sean will bolster the ranks of our coaches, which already consist of some sterling names like Mziwakhe Nkosi, Bafana Nhleko, Wessel Roux and Herkie Kruger,’ said Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli.

SA Rugby recently announced that Nhleko will act as assistant coach for the SA U20 side this year. The Lions’ Super Rugby defence coach Joey Mongalo was part of the SA U20 coaching staff in 2016.

The Lions’ juniors have dominated the domestic competitions in recent years, with the U19s successfully defending their national title in 2017 after winning it in 2016, and the U21 side winning the competition in 2016 and reaching the semi-finals last year.

Thanks to

Rohan back at centre as Mostert move to back row

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Swys de Bruin Lions head coach has sprang a surprise in his side who will play the Bulls this weekend at Loftus when he pick Springbok Franco Mostert for the back-row.

The Lions will have to do without Kwagga Smith who has been given compassionate leave.

Mostert will be joined by Cyle Brink and captain Warren Whiteley for the Lions back-row this weekend.

Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg also gets his first start of the season as he joins Lionel Mapoe in the midfield.

The Lions had slow starts in both their opening matches this year and with what looks like a much more improved side at Loftus under Mitchel, they will have to be on par this weekend.

The one thing Swys have in his Lions squad is experience and quality and this weekend we should have a mouthwatering clash at Loftus.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Marco Janse van Vuuren, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Madosh Tambwe

Behind the Prodigy: The Aphiwe Dyantyi Story

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Aphiwe Dyantyi, 24, is a rugby player who plays for the Golden Lions in the Super Rugby competition as a winger. His story is about life, perseverance, excellence, and can be found in many of the the motivational speeches by re-known celebrities and icons.

This is the story of Aphiwes’ love hate relationship with rugby, as told by himself and his selfless pursuit of happiness and fulfilment.

In this emotional interview Aphiwe takes us through his journey beginning as a five year old who was introduced to rugby at home by his brothers, to the pain he felt at not having played first team rugby for his schools 150 year centenary.

Lost to rugby and having found a new home in football, takes us through key moments that lead him to becoming a professional rugby player.

Thanks to

 

Lions forwards lay foundation for win over Sharks

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The Sharks made the Lions worked up and till the last second of the match for the win as they beat them on Saturday 26-19.

At the end it was the brilliant defence from the Lions that gave them the win with some brilliant tries that also came their way.

The Lions dominate the scrums which laid the platform for this win and the Sharks will have to work hard if they want to improve in this aspects

Lions looked pretty good at the start, but it was the Sharks that did most of the play putting pressure on the Lions.

The Sharks were playing with a bit of more confidence and it showed with them scoring a great try when they got into Lions twenty-two.

The man over was Robert Du Preez who ran over Jantjies to get his first try in a Sharks jumper. This gave the Sharks a 7-0 lead.

It was the power of the Lions pack that gave them a penalty and a change to setup the maul. With a strong run from Marx the ball came out to the backline and Mapoe straight through the gab and over for the Lions first try.

This made the scores level at 7 all after 18 min in the first half.

What happened next was just brilliant from Hacjivah Dayimani who got the ball from Whiteley with all to do, he showed of his speed and then kick a grabber to pick up and score the Lions second try.

This gave the Lions a 14-7 lead after 18 minutes.

The Sharks had one more opportunity at the end of the half but were again murdered in the scrum by the Lions and had to go into halftime behind 14-7.

The Sharks came out in the second half with some purpose and it took them not long to get Nkosi over in the corner for the first try of the second half.

This made the Lions lead only 14-12 after Du Preez missed the conversion.

The Lions never really lost the control of the game and where quickly restoring their lead with a third try through Mapoe.

This gave them a 21-12 lead with the Sharks having to do all to get back in the game. The Sharks responded well with a try of their own through Mapimpi and the lead was reduced to 21-19.

The Lions just stepped up a gear and got Kwagga Smith over for their forth try and extend the lead again to 26-19.

The Sharks gave it their all in the last 5 minutes with plenty of opportunities to get over for a score but brilliant defence from the Lions kept them out up and till the end.

The experience within the Lions side showed and they were deserved winners of the match.

Scorers: 

Lions

 

  • Tries – Kwagga Smith(59′) Lionel Mapoe(52′) Aphiwe Dyantyi(22′) Lionel Mapoe(17′)
  • Penalties – None
  • Cons – Elton Jantjies(53′) Elton Jantjies(24′) Elton Jantjies(18′)

Sharks

 

  • Tries – Makazole Mapimpi(55′) Sibusiso Nkosi(42′) Robert du Preez(8′)
  • Penalties – None
  • Cons – Robert du Preez(56′) Robert du Preez(9′)

 

MATCH STATS – TEAM STATS

Lions Lions  26  19 Sharks Sharks

Tries
4
43
3
Metres carried
342
342365
365
Carries
94
9479
79
Defenders beaten
30
3013
13
Clean breaks
5
56
6
Passes
102
10283
83
Offloads
6
610
10
Turnovers conceded
17
1713
13

 

Whiteley back to lead Lions against Sharks

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Swys de Bruin has named his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Saturdays first match in this years Super Rugby competition.

Jacques van Rooyen will run out will run out in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby game.

Van Rooyen was invited to train with the Lions in 2012 after catching the eye while in action for a club team in Pretoria and has since cemented his place in the squad, even captaining the side during the Currie Cup in 2017.

The Emirates Lions welcomed back their Blitzbok Kwagga Smith who will don the number six jumper in the absence of the injured Jaco Kriel.

Youngster Aphiwe Dyantyi gets his first taste of Super Rugby at wing, filling the big shoes of injured wing Courtnall Skosan while Sylvian Mahuza steps up to the plate at right wing.

Another youngster, Hacjivah Dayimani, has been included on the bench and loan player Marnus Schoeman (Pumas) will also warm the bench. Should they take the field, both will make their Super Rugby debut for the Emirates Lions.

The side will be led by the experienced Warren Whiteley.

You can follow the Lions throughout the Super Rugby on social media….

@lionsrugbyco (Facebook)

@lionsrugbyco (Twitter)

@lionrugbyunion (Instagram)

Emirates Lions side:

Jacques Van Rooyen, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Andries Ferreira, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Cyle Brink, Warren Whiteley (C), Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Herold Vosrter, Lionel Mapoe, Sylvian Mahuza, Andries Coetzee

Replacements:

Robbie Coetzee, Dyon Smith, Jacobus Adriaanse, Marvin Orie, Marnus Schoeman, Hacjivah Dayumani, Howard Mnisi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Emirates Lions sign new sponsor

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World Sports Betting, SA’s Leading Online Sportsbook have announced the signing of Lions Rugby Company as their official sports betting partner for the next 3 years.

This sponsorship will be for all international and local tournaments and comes shortly after their 2017 acquisition of the Headline Sponsor of the now World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

Speaking about the newest sponsorship, Ryno du Plessis, National Marketing Manager of World Sports Betting pointed out the brand’s complete passion to support local teams and South African sport as a whole.

“World Sports Betting, a renowned and house-hold brand throughout South Africa, offers national and global betting in all sporting events,” said Du Plessis.

When looking for a partner on the Rugby stage, we looked no further than the Lions. Their commendable performance in recent years have made them a perfect match for our brand”.

Du Plessis also expressed his and his team’s dedication to inject more excitement into the Lions supporters in-stadium and promises some amazing promotions and activations over the next three years.

Warren Tannous, finding CEO of World Sports Betting and more so a passionate supporter of Lions Rugby called the sponsorship a “highlight” to the company’s year and future.

“Growing up in a family who supported the franchise for as long as I can recall, made the decision to partner with the Lions was done without hesitation. In fact it is something I have been looking to do for several years. Today, rugby is a big part of our business and product offering. We offer hundreds of Live In-Play and Pre-match markets on all local and International rugby and for me, seeing our brand associated with a world-wide franchise such as the Lions is an absolute honour,” he commented.

Edgar Rathbone, Managing Director of EPS (Pty) Ltd, welcomed World Sports Betting on board as the latest sponsor to the Lions Rugby Company, to be sported on the back of the Vodacom Super Rugby shorts.

“We are proud to be associated with World Sports Betting, a brand that has gone from strength to strength in the past few years. We know it will be a long and prosperous relationship”

World Sports Betting is also a major sponsor of South African Cricket, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts and Horse Racing and supporters over 18 are invited to find out more about them by visiting www.wsb.co.za or by following them on Social Media

Preview Super Rugby 2018 – Emirates Lions

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The best team the last two years in South Africa by far and after reaching two finals in the same period the Lions will want to go all the way this year.

Many would have put money on the Lions to beat the Crusaders last year at home in the final but a red card to Kwagga Smith ended their quest to lift the Super Rugby trophy.

It was also the last match in charge for Lions coach Johan Ackermann who moved to England after the Super Rugby final.

With Ackermann the Lions also lost some players who moved on in Ruan Ackermann, (Gloucester), Fabian Booysen (released), Faf de Klerk (Sale), Jaques Nel (Kings), Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh), Hencus van Wyk (Munakata Sanix Blues).

With coach Swys de Bruin taken over from Ackermann this year we can see excitement brewing in the Lions camp and among their supporters.

De Bruin started his coaching career in Durban at the Sharks Academy. He was the head coach of the Sharks U21 side in 1996 and 1997 and took charge of the Natal Wildebeest in the 1998 Vodacom Cup, guiding the team to the semi-finals of the competition.

De Bruin moved to Kimberley to become the head coach of the Griquas. He coached the side between 1998 and 2003, helping them reach the final of the competition in 1999 and 2000.

In 2001, De Bruin was also in charge of the South Africa Under-21 team. He returned to Durban in 2004 to join as the head and skills coach of the Sharks Academy, helping out at Vodacom Cup, Under-21 and Under-19 level.

After eight seasons back in Durban, De Bruin moved to Johannesburg to become Golden Lions and Lions head coach Johan Ackermann’s assistant coach.

Coach Swys has picked a very strong squad for this year. The Lions have been the pride of South Africa for the past two years where the rest was just there and we expect another good year from them.

Here is there squad:

Jacobie Adriaanse, Cyle Brink, Robbie Coetzee, Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronjé, Ashlon Davids, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ruan Dreyer, Aphiwe Dyanti, Willie Engelbrecht, Lourens Erasmus, Andries Ferreira, Corne Fourie, Rhyno Herbst, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Elton Jantjies, Johannes Jonker, Jaco Kriel, Robert Kruger, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Len Massyn, Christiaan Meyer, Howard Mnisi, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Shaun Reynolds, Marnus Schoeman, Sti Sithole, Courtnall Skosan, Dillon Smith, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Smith, Madosh Tambwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley (c).

The talent and experience of the squad will help De Bruin in his first year of coaching the Lions in Super Rugby.

He has an experience captain who is also the Springbok captain and have been playing way above his weight.

Beside from the brilliant leader that Warren Whiteley has been he is one of those players that do not leave anything on the field.

With Warren you have Jaco Kriel who has also not shown great leadership but also one of the best players the last couple of years in South Africa.

What makes the Lions such a great team is the combination of a great pack with a backline that can rip through any defence.

Although Jantjies have struggled somewhat at international level last year, he still makes and breaks this Lions side.

With the world cup next year and Pollard with some youngsters breathing down his neck one can expect a good season from Elton.

Devastating runners on a mission to score tries have been the mark of this Lions team for more than three years.

We can expect allot of tries and another shot this year at the title.

Still the best shot of any SA team to lift the trophy.

The Lions start there season against the Sharks at home on the 17 February

 

Dreyer and Janse van Rensburg on their way to Gloucester?

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The changes are good that the Lions will have to say goodbye to Ruan Dreyer and Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Media reports suggest that former Lions coach Johan Ackermann has been eager to get the Lions due for Gloucester.

With All Black John Afoa joining Bristol at the end of the season Ackermann will need the likes of Dreyer.

Janse van Rensburg has been on loan to Sale Sharks but it seems that he is also going to join his former coach.

This will be a huge loss for the Lions.

Another Lions wing injured

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The Lions have suffered a huge injury below even before the Super Rugby has started with the news that Skosan has been ruled out due to a knee injury.

This is not what the Lions would have been hoping for even before the tournament started with the Springbok playing a major role in last years success.

With Combrinck already on the sideline the Lions have now two of their Springboks not being able to start the new season.

Scans later confirmed that the he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The Lions are set to host the Bulls in a pre-season encounter on Saturday at Ellis Park at 15:00 while their Super Rugby campaign gets underway on at home against the Sharks on February 17.

Redelinghuys call it a day on his carreer

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It may be the right call but it is sad to hear that Springbok and Lions strong-man Julian Redelinghuys has announced that he will be retiring from the game due to the neck injury he picked up last year.

His retirement is with immediate effect after the horrific injury he picked up against the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup semi final last year.

His decision was not an easy one but one he had to take. He explained to Rapport that he just could not risk another neck injury.

 

“I am just glad I can still walk. It would have been selfish of me to continue playing. I could have ended up in a wheelchair (if I played again). I can still do everything, except play rugby,” he said.

He will not be totally lost to rugby as he is already working with the Lions rugby union.

 

Kriel going nowhere

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As usual South African media has nothing better to do than spreading rumors maybe because their is no rugby around to report on.

The newest rumor doing the rounds is that Lions and Springbok Jaco Kriel has signed a contract with Gloucester where his former Lions mentor Johan Ackermann is coaching now.

The report stated that Kriel have signed  a three year deal with the English club. Kriel has signed a two year deal with Japanese club Kubota Spears which will only make him available for Gloucester in 2019

 

In Touch Sports have quickly responded on twitter that Kriel is committed to the Lions and have signed nothing.

Best solution for supporters is to take not just a little bit of salt, but a lot with what is being reported in the media this next couple of weeks.

 

Meyer join Lions for Super Rugby

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The Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. has acquired the services of Griquas scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer on loan for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

More acquisition will be announced in the coming weeks.

All teams are currently on break and will return mid-November to begin Super Rugby preparation. Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. thanks all its loyal supporters for their ongoing support through the season.

The Lions Rugby Company is very proud of their Under 19 side that successfully defended their provincial title. They beat the Free State 55-24 in the final at Growthpoint Kings Park (Durban) last weekend. Their tally of 104 tries for the season is a proud achievement. Find attached the team picture of the Xerox Golden Lions Under 19 side.

The following players have come to the end of their contract with the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd. Rudolf Straeuli CEO of Lions Rugby Company wishes all these players the very best for their future endeavors.

Adre Smit

Bader Pretorius

Barend Smith

Curtis Jonas

Divan Henning

Fabian Booyen

Gerdus van der Walt

Gideon Botha

Jaco van der Walt

Jacobus Tredoux

JP du Preez

Le Roux Baard

Lincoln Daniels

MC de Jongh

Morney Moos

Rheyno Potgieter

Runan Venter

Wihan Jacobs

Paige maybe on his way to Lions

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There seem to be allot of movement to start happening on the local rugby scene as Netwerk24 is reporting that Springbok and Bulls nine is set to move to the Lions.

This could just be what Paige is needing to take his game to the next level with the Lions that have been the top side in SA for the last couple of years now.

With Faf de Klerk moving to England the Lions was always seeking a quality nine to replace him with Cronje as their number one.

Ivan van Zyl seems to be the man Micthell have his faith in the new look Bulls team so the move may be just what the doctor ordered for Paige.

It is also no secret that the Bulls want to pull Pumas Stefan Ungerer to Pretoria which should make game time even more difficult for the Springbok if he stay.

It is also said that the Bulls have signed Province prop Frans van Wyk to strengthen their tight-head problems.

Sure we will see some more speculations and moves this coming weeks as players contracts comes to and end at this time of the year.

Breaking: Matfield Lions new forward coach

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rofl Not a rumor anymore as former Springbok lock Victor Matfield has been named the Lions’ new forwards coach.

Swys de Bruin on Thursday officially replaced Johan Ackermann as Lions head coach, while Matfield was unveiled one of his assistants.

Swys De Bruin is now the new head coach of the Lions and Golden Lions after he replaced Ackermann and it looks like he has his eyes firmly set on Matfield to become his forward coach.

Ackermann was looking after the forwards of the Lions while he was the head coach and with him leaving it leave the Lions without a out and out forward coach.

Matfield and De Bruin previously work together at Griqaus in the 1990’s before Matfield joinedthe Blue Bulls.

Matfield have assist in coaching at the Bulls and retired completely from rugby in 2015 after the World Cup.

Saders on mission to do what no one has done before

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It does not matter from which side or which angle you look at this weekend Vodacom Super Rugby final it will break records and we will have a new champion as well.

The Crusaders have been the most successful team in the history of Super Rugby but they have not won the tournament since 2008 when they beat the Waratahs.

After that win they played against the Reds in 2011 final but lost 18-13 and the most recent one was in 2014 against the Waratahs when they lost 33-32 and funny enough that they was also a South African referee in charged, Craig Joubert.

They will have to do the impossible this week and travel to the Republic and try and win which no side have done before, well the Crusaders did travel to Australia to beat the Brumbies in the 2000 final but this time it is to South Africa.

In five different occasions teams tried to cross the Indian Ocean and win in either South Africa or New Zealand and all have failed.

The Lions will go out to try and replicate what the Tranvaal team did against the Auckland in 1993 when that team won the Super 10 competition, when they take on the Saders team.

Both teams have only lost one game this season but it was the Lions that ended on top with more bonus points than the Crusaders which secure them home play-off matches.

It has been a long road for Johan Ackermann and his players from the day were they were regulated out of Super Rugby and since their return the improvement they made every year.

It is fitting that the man who led this team out of the dark times in Johannesburg gets a final at home in front of 62000 supporters.

If you are a betting man, good luck but I will rather enjoy the spectacle on Saturday and keep my money safe as any of these two teams can lift the trophy after 80 minutes.

 

Ackermann tell Venter off

5

Johan Ackerkmann essentially told Brendan Venter to stick to being a defensive coaching after the Springbok assistant coach made comments in The Times.

Venter suggested that Lions coaches will need to rebuild their relationship with flyhalf Elton Jantjies. Venter criticised the decision to substitute Jantjies in the 62nd minute of last Saturday’s quarter-final against the Sharks.

I don’t understand the rationale behind the call to pull him from the field and replace him with fullback Andries Coetzee. Just like players make mistakes, coaches are prone to strange decisions under pressure and to commit errors. Jantjies has played very well for the Lions over a prolonged period” he siad.

I would like to know if the coaches can rebuild their relationship with Jantjies, which was damaged by taking him off in the second half. The Jantjies situation is a side issue the Lions will have to address this week. It’s not something that can be swept under the carpet, because much of the Lions’ success has been built around trust and believing in each other.’

Lions coach Ackermann told the media last week that he has a great relationship with Jantjies.

 

Lions stays unchanged for Hurricanes

0

Lions coach Johan Ackermann went for continuity for their semi-final match against the defending champions the Hurricanes.

The Lions have struggled against the Sharks at home last week and had one of their worst games in two years but a magical kick from Combrinck gave them a narrow victory.

The side have now been unchanged now for three weeks and are due for a better performance than they showed against the Sharks away and at home.

The players realised that the kind of game we played last week won’t be good enough,’ Ackermann said. ‘We need to lift our game if we want to compete against one of the best teams in the competition.’

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.

Lions need collective leadership to beat Hurricanes

3

If we really want to be honest then we will admit that the Lions have been limping these last couple of weeks.

The Sharks have now for two weeks in a row unsettled the Lions team firstly in Durban and then again this weekend in Johannesburg. If the players and coaches are brutally honest they will admit that they have drop in form and it is not what the doctor ordered for the play-offs.

They have the luxury this year to get a home final and all they have to do is beat the defending champions the Hurricanes this weekend at Emirates Airline Park.

In recent weeks the Lions have lost one of the most important person in their setup, Warren Whiteley. Whiteley has been ruled out of the Super Rugby as he recovers to lead the Springboks next month in the Rugby Championship.

If their was any doubt how much Whiteley leadership means to the team, we just need to look at the turnaround the Springboks made this year with him as their leader. We saw this kind of leadership back in the days of Francois Pienaar, Gary Teichmann and John Smith. Teams do well when they have inspirational leaders and Whiteley is surely one of those.

The last few games from the Lions felt a bit panicking which is natural in these types of game but there was not enough leadership. Take nothing away from Jaco Kriel who has led the Lions before in Whiteley absence but on Saturday we could see that Whiteley leadership was missed.

This does not make Kriel suddenly a bad player, it rather show us just how great a leader Whiteley is to this team and surely to the Springboks as well.

A great leader steps up when the chips starts falling against you. The Lions have a great group of leaders and experience in their team and they will have to make a collective effort this weekend against the Hurricanes from all the senior players to take a leadership role and help Kriel.

It has been said before….in all honesty, in any successful team all of it’s players are leaders in their own way.

 

Micth- Lions can take this all

0

Former Lions and current Bulls director of Rugby John Mitchell believes the emotional attachment that the Lions have to their current coaching set-up can carry them all the way to this year’s Super Rugby title.

According to the SuperSport website, with coach Johan Ackermann heading to Gloucester at the conclusion of the Super Rugby campaign, the Lions will have more than the normal motivation to win the tournament, and as they have finished top of the league table, they will be comfortable at home without the travel nightmare that other teams face in the final rounds of the competition.

Mitchell believes that the New Zealand teams in particular underestimate the emotional attachment around the Lions team and that could be to their downfall if they have to visit Johannesburg for a playoff game.

“Most definitely. They’ve presented themselves with a great opportunity by finishing top of the log. I’m not sure if the other teams understand the emotional motivation with Ackers leaving after this tournament and the fact that they fell short last year at the last hurdle.

“They will be highly motivated and have a huge amount of desire. If they can keep their composure and focus on their processes and not get too emotionally committed to the outcome, I think they will finish off well.”

Mitchell also believes that while it was never good to see the Kings and Cheetahs leave Super Rugby, the proposed move to new competitions could well benefit the rest of the country’s rugby structures when the game moves to a global season in a few years time.

“Its not nice to exit a competition. If you look at my experience in 2012 with the Lions where I was hoping to debate whether people were transparent enough about what was happening to us. But ultimately when you look at it it was probably one of the best thing that happened to the Lions in the way they could clean out and get their wage bill way under R30-million and start again with a young committed group that wasn’t targeted by the market. It is only now they’re starting to be targeted by the market. There is actually a lot of good things to happen from coming out of Super Rugby.

“But for Saru, when the next broadcasting deal comes up in Super Rugby, hedging your bets by betting on the other side of the fence is not a bad commercial strategy as well. Ultimately as well where does SA Rugby head when it becomes a global season.

“There is a lot to be said for South Africans playing in the northern hemisphere, so I guess they get the best of both worlds.”

Mitchell was the coach of the Lions when they exited Super Rugby for a season to make way for the Kings to debut in the competition.

Read the full story on SuperSport

Lions demolish Sunwolves in Johannesburg

11

The Lions took another step closer to get that home final when they demolish the Sunwolves on Saturday 94-7.

With the Lions picking their strongest possible side for this game one expected them to dominate play and the scoreline and that is exactly what they did from the start.

They scored five tries in the first half all off them converted by Jantjies to give them a 35-0 lead at the break.

The Sunwolves had no answer in the first half for the power and speed the Lions came at them and the tackling was poor to say the least.

The Lions dominated all aspects of the game in that first half from the scrums, lineouts to the breakdowns and where good enough to keep the Sunwolves scoreless in that first forty minutes.

If one though the first half was bad for the Sunwolves then the second was a massacre as they Lions ended up with 14 tries with only 1 that was scored by the Sunwolves.

They were totally outplayed and not in the same class to be honest. Serious questions on the thinking of SANZAAR to keep a team like the Sunwolves but want to send the Southern Kings, Cheetahs and ether Force or Rebels pacing.

They are not even close to be competitive in this competition and it is a shame that SANZAAR allows a mediocre side like them stay in this premier competition.

The Lions are well on their way to put their name in the hat for the title this year and will have a bye next week to take the Sharks on in their last match of the season in two weeks.

Scorers:

Lions:

Tries: Cronje, Smith 2, Kriel 2, Jantjies, Van der Merwe, Combrinck 3, Skosan, De Klerk, Mahuza, Ackermann

Conversions: Jantjies 6, Combrinck 5, De Klerk

 Sunwolves:

Try: Helu

Conversion: Ogura

 

 

Rohan to make return for Lions

4

IOL has reported that Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg may be returning to the Lions setup as early as next week after his knee operation.

The Springbok centre has been given the all clear to play from his medical staff and just need to get his conditioning back in shape before running out for the Lions again.

Jansen van Rensburg has been one of the inform number 12’s in the country before his injury and will want to get back on the field to fight for his place not just in the Lions side but also in the Springbok setup.

Meanwhile, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said no one was to blame for Warren Whiteley’s recent injury, which saw him suffer a torn ligament in his pelvis.

‘It’s obviously been worn for a while and now it’s torn. It’s really unfortunate, but no one is to blame, nobody did anything wrong,’ Collins told The Star newspaper.

‘The good news is Warren is excellent when it comes to rehabilitation work. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve dealt with regarding this sort of thing, so, if all goes well, he’ll be back before eight weeks.’

Whiteley out of Super Rugby

2

Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not take part in any of the remaining Super Rugby matches for the Lions including the finals due to a torn ligament in his pelvis.

Whiteley was a lats minute withdraw from the first test which saw Eben Etzebeth taking charge of the Springboks in his first game as captain. The Lions made the announcement on Whiteley on Tuesday to confirm the injury after scans.

He does not require surgery but is expected to be sidelined for between six and eight weeks, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said.

With the Super Rugby final scheduled for August 5, it means Whiteley will not take any further part in this year’s event and the injury also leaves his participation for the start of the Rugby Championship in doubt.

The Boks open their campaign against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 19.

That is a over six weeks away and leaves the Bok skipper in a race against time to be fit for their Rugby Championship opener.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg: The man behind the ball

0

Springbok and Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s life off the field makes his rugby achievements even more remarkable.

Janse van Rensburg, 22, has quickly become a household name among the South African rugby fraternity after making his breakthrough at the Lions.

He’s recognised as one of the top centres in Super Rugby. His early impressive form earned him the MyPlayers Player of the Month award in February, which is a prestigious accolade as the decision was voted by all professional rugby players in South Africa. The 22-year-old was nominated among the likes of Stormers captain Siya Kolisi, Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga and Springbok Sevens duo Seabelo Senatla and Chris Dry.

However, it was Janse van Rensburg’s rise to prominence over the past two seasons that earned him collective respect from players and fans alike. After a string of stellar performances during Super Rugby and the Currie Cup in 2016, he was rewarded with a Springbok call-up for the friendly match against the Barbarians in London last November.

Scheduled to return home following the game, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee decided to retain the young centre in his squad as an injury replacement for utility back Jesse Kriel, who suffered a leg injury. This decision was made after Janse van Rensburg delivered an impressive individual display against the Barbarians, which included a late try that salvaged a 31-31 draw against the famous invitation club.

The player can still recall those highlight moments on tour, which he described as a “dream come true”.

“I still remember when and how I got the news from coach Allister. I was in my room at the team hotel when he came to speak to me. He said he was very impressed with what he’s seen so far and he wants to me stay for the entire tour. When he left the room, I could feel the tears in my eyes. My dream had come true,” Janse van Rensburg told MyPlayers.

“I learned so much over short space of time while training and playing alongside some of the best players in the world. I went on to make my Test debut against Wales. It was not the ideal result, but it was a very special game for me. I was proud to become a Springbok and represent my country, and I hope to play many more Tests.”

The tears Janse van Rensburg describes represented the joy following a tough journey during his professional career.

In rugby terms, his achievements didn’t come easy. When he first arrived in Johannesburg, he showed the necessary patience to gradually play his way into the senior team. This saw him feature more regularly among the Lions Under-21s. He was later named Lions Under-21 Back of the Year in his first season before cementing his spot in the senior squad.

It was a positive start to a new career chapter after a disappointing end to life at the Bulls, which also almost saw him consider an early retirement.

“I really appreciated all the lessons learned and friendships made at the Bulls. But I found myself stuck in a space where I wasn’t happy mentally. The harder I worked on the field, the worse it became. It got to a point where I seriously thought of giving up on a sport as I didn’t enjoy myself anymore,” says Janse van Rensburg,

“I saw the move to the Lions as an opportunity for a fresh start. When the new deal was confirmed, some people didn’t see it as a positive switch because the Lions were going through a tough transition at the time. They just went a year without Super Rugby, so there were many unknowns and doubts around their potential to re-establish themselves. But I remember chatting to coach Akkers (Johan Ackermann) about his vision for the union. He got every player to buy into his plan and that has made such a positive difference from day one. We quickly grew into a squad of brothers. There was a great vibe among everybody involved at the Lions, which has been the secret to our success.”

While he worked through his rugby dilemmas, it was off the field where Janse van Rensburg was hit the hardest. In March this year, his mother passed away after a long-term battle against cancer.

“It’s something that still hurts today and will probably hurt for a very long time. There are days when I pick up my phone and I want to call her, but I have to remind myself that she’s not there to answer anymore,” explains Janse van Rensburg. “My mother played such an influential role in my life. She was my hero.

“When she was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, she wasn’t able to attend any of my rugby games because her immune system was very weak. In fact, the doctors only gave her four years to live, but she was still determined to live a normal life. She’d dedicate time to drive me to training and make sure I followed the right diet.

“Without her help and support since I was a schoolboy, I’d never achieve my dreams of becoming a professional rugby player. That’s why I decided to play in the week of her passing… to dedicate the match against the Waratahs for her. It was such an emotional experience. I was so delighted to score two tries to help the Lions win the match in her name.”

Janse van Rensburg will continue to live his life in honour of his mother. He even has a new perspective on life as he hopes inspire more people during his journey.

Even after falling victim to a nightmare robbery and kidnapping incident, which also involved two others at his home in Johannesburg, and suffering a knee injury at a crucial stage of the season, he remains optimistic looking ahead.

“My mother’s proudest moment was the day she saw me play for the Springboks on TV. So when it comes to my rugby, I want to achieve much more on the field in her honour. I know she’s looking down on me from heaven, so I want to make her proud,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“I’ve been through some tough times this year, but I will continue doing what I can to move on and inspire others.

“I want my influence to extend beyond rugby… I want to make a good impact on the field too. I want to inspire more people, especially the youth, to chase their dream… the same way my mother backed me to pursue mine.”

For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za

Faf left out of Lions team to face Brumbies

1

Lions coach Ackermann has left out Faf de Klerk for this weekend’s Super Rugby match against the Brumbies.

This comes after Sale Sharks this week announced that the Springbok will be joining them for next season. The Lions have come out and said no deal has yet been made and that nothing is finalized.

Ross Cronjé again starts at number nine while a new front row in Corné Fourie, Robbie Coetzee and Johannes Jonker will get a start in place of Jacques van Rooyen, Malcolm Marx and Ruan Dreyer.

At lock Andries Ferreira returns in the place of Lourens Erasmus while Cyle Brink is replaced by Ruan Ackermann.

A decision on the cover at flank on the bench will be made later in the week with Robert Kruger bracketed with Cyle Brink.

Justin Ackerman will be joining the squad in Australia to provide back-up for the injured Hencus van Wyk.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Robert Kruger/Cyle Brink, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink

Lions get bonus point win over Rebels

2

The Lions got a bonus point win over the Rebels on Saturday when they bet them 47-10.

It was a frantic start to the match with the Lions putting wave on wave of attacks together but with a Rebels side that just kept hitting them back.

It was not just tackling of the Lions but tackling them back and preventing a couple of tries through their brilliant defence.

The Lions speed on attack was brilliant and found the space but just could not finished it off.

It took the Lions 20 min to get over for the first try with Kwagga Smith the man over the line and a lead of 7-0.

The Lions kept attacking and playing in the Rebels half. After a drive from the lineout that was going nowhere Cronje took the ball and with some great stepping got over for the Lions second try.

The Rebels then got on the board through a great try in the corner through English. This reduced the Lions lead to 14-7 after 29 min.

The Lions had one more try in them before the end of the half after another great break by Skosan as they ended the first half with a lead 0f 19-7.

The Rebels got the first points in the second half with a penalty to reduce the lead to 19-10 but Mahuza then ran almost through the whole Rebels team to score a great try for the Lions.

The Lions kept the pressure on the Rebels and after a drive from the lineout was pulled down from the Rebels the referee awarded a penalty try and a yellow card for the Rebels.

This gave the Lions a 33-10 lead. The next try did not take long with Volmink going over and a 40-10 lead.

The Rebels kept trying but handling errors and some great Lions defence kept them out.

The Lions made the perfect end to the game with their captain going over for their last try of the match and a win of 47-10.

Rebels – Tries: Tom English. Conversions: Reece Hodge. Penalty: Hodge.
Lions – Tries: Kwagga Smith, Ross Cronjé, Courtnall Skosan, Sylvian Mahuza, penalty try, Anthony Volmink, Warren Whiteley. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6).

Lions start tour with bonus point win

0

The Force put a great defensive effort together but it was not enough to stop the Lions to get a bonus point win on Saturday when they beat them 24-15.

A match that most believe the Lions should have won and won with a bonus points was not as easy in that first half as expected.

It was the Lions with the first try through Mapoe to take the lead of 7-0 after dominating the opening exchanges in the match.

The Force showed that they are there to play and play to win with intense pressure being put on the Lions and got the first two penalties over to reduce the lead to 7-6 halfway through the half.

The Force defence was great throughout the first half but with great hands the Lions got over for their second try just before the end of the half to take the lead to 14-6.

It was Skosan that was on the end of it all to go over in the corner.

The Force did manage another penalty to make the halftime score 14-9.

The Lions struggled to take control of the match and both teams could only manage a penalty a piece in the first 17 min of the second half.

This made the lead for the Lions only 17-12.

Most of the second half was frustrating for the Lions as the Force defence was brilliant at times and made a few turnovers as well. With five minutes to play the lead was only 17-15.

The Lions did manage to get that bonus point try after the hooter to win the match 24-15. This was not the best Lions game but effective.

The scorers:

For Force:
Pens: Prior 5

For Lions:
Tries: Mapoe, Skosan, Jantjies
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pen: Jantjies

Lions touring sqaud

2

The Lions will have to do without Jaco Kriel and Tambwe when they tour Australia.

Kriel suffered an injury against the Jaguares and Tambwe will stay to form part of the the SA U20 sqaud for the Junior Wolrd Championship.

The Lions will aim to get full points against the Aussies on tour with the Aussie sides struggling at the moment.

The Emirates Lions touring squad to Australia is:

Forwards: Jacques van Rooyen, Corné Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, Johannes Jonker, Hencus van Wyk, Akker van der Merwe, Robbie Coetzee, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Lourens Erasmus, Ruan Ackermann, Warren Whiteley, Kwagga Smith, Cyle Brink, Robert Kruger.

Backs: Faf de Klerk, Ross Cronjé, Dillon Smit, Elton Jantjies, Courtnall Skosan, Harold Vorster, Jacques Nel, Lionel Mapoe, Sylvian Mahuza, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink.

  • Jaco Kriel picked up a knee injury in the game against the Jaguares and will stay in South Africa to rehab. He should be ready in three weeks.
  • Madosh Tambwe will stay with the SA Under 20 squad.

Breaking News: Ackermann leaving Lions for Gloucester

13

It is now official Johan Aclermann has confirm that is leaving the Lions after the Super Rugby this year to join Gloucester.

Ackermann have been linked to the English club for weeks now and it was confirm on a special media release this morning that Ackermann has excepted a three year deal with the club.

This means that he will leave the union after the Super Rugby competition and the new head coach will be announced in time. Ackermann took the last few weeks to consider the offer.

The Lions tried their best to keep Ackermann but he at the end decided that it is the best for his career to make the move. He will replace former coach Fischer at the club and it is believed that now assistant coach Swys de Bruin will be the likely person to take over from Ackermann.

“I would be disappointed if anyone doubted by integrity and commitment to the Lions [until the end of the season],” he commented at a press conference at Ellis Park. “It was quite an emotional time to tell the players this morning. They are more than just players to me, I owe it to them and to the union to be 100% committed until the end of the season.”

“My journey elsewhere will only start once the job is done here, “he added.

Johan’ Ackermann was born June 3, 1970, he played lock in his playing days.

Ackerman is known for his physical approach to the game. In 2007, Ackermann became the oldest Springbok to play for the national side, at the age of 37. After the 2007 World Cup in France, he was recalled to the Springbok squad to play against the Barbarians. This was his last outing as an international player.

Ackermann bowed out of professional rugby on a winning note on 1 March 2008, when the Sharks defeated the Bulls 29-15 at Loftus Versfeld. He became the oldest player ever in Super Rugby history at age 37 years, 272 days.

In 1997, Ackermann was banned for two years for use of the prohibited substance nandrolone, an anabolic-androgenic steroid.

Ackermann originally was the Forwards coach of the Lions in Super Rugby under head coach, John Mitchel but after Mitchel left the Union he took over. He has seen huge success as coach of the Union including winning the SARU Coach of the Year award in 2014, his first year as head coach.

He build the Lions team over the last couple of years as the best side in South Africa in Super Rugby and Currie Cup and his side reached the Super Rugby final last year.

 

 

 

Lions beat Sharks in a thriller

1

We saw on Saturday another classic game of rugby which just show that South African is on the up. The Lions edge the Sharks at the end in a thriller to in the match 34-29.

We expected a fast and frantic game and we got that in the first half with the Sharks dominating most of that half with there hard big pack.

They dominating the contact and using their power to overpower the Lions at the breakdown. They scored a brillint try with Oostuizen going over with a strong run.

The Lions struggled to get going and find the space in the Sharks defense which was brilliant in that first half. Their almost seemed a bit surprise with the power of the Sharks game.

The Lions sgot two penalties over in the first half but it was all Sharks with 39 minutes gone. Bosch did not missed with the boot much and he also slotted a drop goal over.

Just before the break the Sharks got a yellow card for a second dangerous tackle and the Lions opted to go for the lineout.

They got the drive going and Marx got over as the hooter sounded for halftime giving the Sharks only a 16-13 lead at the break.

The second half lived up to even more than what we got in the first as the Lions came back at the Sharks making the game faster and scoring some great tries  in the process. No more important than the 78 min try Kriel scored to give them the lead.

The teams were logged at even stevens for most part of the match and trading penalties for the last ten minutes till the brrilliant break from Kwagga Smith that send Kriel down the line to score the winning try.

The Sharks did never gave up in the match and with the boot from the tlented Bosch kept in the match and the Lions honest throughout the match.

Both teams where brilliant in defense and they did not let up throughout the 80 minutes and both teams wanted to run the ball and score tries.

At the end the Lions hold on and got the win and keeping the winning record at home.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Marx, Skosan, Kriel
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pens: Jantjies 4
Drop-Goal: Coetzee

For Sharks:
Tries: C Oosthuizen, Van Wyk
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 4
Drop-Goal: Bosch
Yellow Card: E Oosthuizen

Emirates Lions get bonus point win over Southern Kings

2

It was not the greatest performance from the Lions but they did beat the Kings 42-19 with a bonus point. Just too many handling errors from the teams and the Lions struggled to get going

The Kings did again start as last week against the Sharks as they were first over the line for the first try of the match taking the lead of 7-0 after 1 minute.

The Kings then tried to run from behind their own line and Tambwe intercept to scored the easiest try of his life to make the scores 7-all after 3 min.

The Lions got their second try after a brilliant drive which send Marc over and the lead off 14-7 after 12 min.

The Lions kept putting huge pressure on the Kings and kept playing in their half and a quick penalty take gave Jantjies his try and the Lions thrid of the match.

The Lions kept emence pressure on the Kings and they stayed in their half speeding up the game.

With the Lions on attack deep in Kings half they turned the ball over and scored on the other side to get the scoreboard kicking over.

The Lions kept scoring tries and got their forth try to take the score to 28-12 with only 25 minutes gone.

The Kings struggled to keep the Lions out and through some great play from the forwards the Lions got over for their fith try after 34 min taking the score to 35-12.

This was also the score at the break.

The Kings answer back in the beginning of the second half with a great try from Jaer in the corner which reduced the Lions lead to 35-19 after 44 min.

The game went a bit south with no team really keeping the ball in hands fro long periods and making allot of handling errors which kept the game with not much going on.

It took the Lions 36 min in the second half to socre their next try. That gave them a lead of 42-19 after 78 min.

That was the end score as well as the Lions took a bonu point win but pretty it was definitly not.

Scorers:

Kings – Tries: Andisa Ntsila, Yaw Penxe, Malcolm Jaer. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2).
Lions – Tries: Madosh Tambwe (2), Malcolm Marx, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Kriel, Harold Vorster. Conversions: Jantjies (5), Andries Coetzee

Reds no match for Lions

2

Skosan made it four tries for the Lions as they beat the Reds on Saturday with 44-14 to keep their winnings ways at home.

The Reds started well moving into the lions twenty-two early on but Lions defense hold them out and gave them a change to attack themselves.

The Lions had to defend for the better part of the first ten minutes.

The Lions started to control the ball more and played in the right side of the field and with a great break from Rohan he sends Skosan over for their first try.

Although the score did not change much the Lions dominated in most of the aspects. Jantjies did slotted over a penalty to take their lead to 10-0 after 31 min

The Lions kept the pressure on the Reds and with an attacking lineout, Jaco Kriel was at the end of a perfect drive to score the Lions second try of the match.

The teams went into the break with the Lions leading 15-0.

Everything went south for the Reds after halftime with the Lions dominating play.

First, they got a yellow card for deliberate offence near the try line and then Cooper was send off with a red card for a high shot at Rohan while scoring his try.

The Lions got their lead to 20-0 by that time and were lucky not to lose another player for a tip tackle on Jantjies.

It took not long to use the extra men they had as the Lions scored another try quickly after and took the scoreboard to 25-0 after 50 min.

The rest of the half was dominated by the Lions and they were able to score some great tries with the Reds able to get two tries on the board.

At the end the Lions was just too good for a Reds side who was not good enough.

Scorers:

Lions – Tries: Courtnall Skosan (4), Jaco Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Marx. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2), Andries Coetzee. Penalty: Jantjies.
Reds – Try: Izaia Perese, Taniela Tupou. Conversion: Jake McIntyre (2).

Ackermann in talks with Gloucester

18

Gloucester have moved to replacing Laurie Fisher by approaching Lions boss Johan Ackermann, the South African admitted this week.

Ackermann is highly regarded both in South Africa and beyond after guiding the Lions to Currie Cup titles and the Super Rugby final in 2016.

The former Springbok discussed the approach from Gloucester ahead of his side’s meeting with the Reds at Ellis Park.

“I have been offered an opportunity to go there and I am in the process of examining all the pros and the cons,” Ackermann said.

“I will make a decision sooner than later because I don’t want the team to be distracted. We have a tournament to perform in, but I will obviously make the call when the time is right.”

Asked whether he had set a deadline to make a decision on Gloucester’s offer, Ackermann revealed one was not in place.

“I don’t want the players to be in two minds and worry about my future. I want them to focus. For now, we have got a Reds game to win,” he added.

“If you put a timeframe to it, then the players will start guessing – Is it this week, is it next week?

“At this stage I can only say there is an offer on the table and it is something I am looking at.”

Jaguares out-played Emirates Lions

1

The Jaguares was just too strong at home for the Lions when they beat them 36-24 on Saturday.

The Jaguares had the better start from the two teams getting an early penalty and kicked for an attacking lineout but the Lions defense was up for it.

The Jaguares kept the pressure on the Lions and went through the backline and scored the first try of the match in the corner to take the lead 5-0.

They immediately got a penalty and decided to go for points which was successful.

The Lions then came to the party and on attack had a lineout, drive and send Whiteley over to get their first try of the match.

The Jaguares were leading 8-7 at that stage.

The Jaguares build up nicely again on attack and scored their second try which gave them a 15-7 lead after 20 min. If that was not bad enough the Lions got a yellow card for a high tackle.

The Jaguares took full control of the match and knocked over a few more penalties as the Lions kept on making mistakes. They soon too the lead in the match to 21-7.

The Lions kept on struggling in lineouts and scrums which gave the Jaguares plenty of great first phase ball.

The Jaguares went into the break in a deserving lead of 21-7.

The second started as the first with the Jaguares on attack and got the penalty which they missed. A worrying factor for the Lions when the referee did not see a dangerous tackle from Jaguares but straight after it gave a penalty for Jaguares for a high tackle.

With the penalty, the Jaguares extend the lead to 24-7.

The Lions hit back with a try of their own after they got into the Jaguares twenty-two through a penalty. That reduced the Jaguares lead to 24-12.

With so much pressure being put on the Lions the Jaguares scored another try to take their lead to 29-12.

Thing just got worse for the Lions when they got their second yellow card of the match for another high tackle.

The Jaguares step up the pressure on attack leaving the Lions defense in trouble as they scored another try and extend the lead to 35-12.

With the replacements of the Lions on the field they did started to hold the Jaguares flow but it was a little too late really.

The Lions did get a try but it was a little too late really as the Jaguares lead them 36-17. The bench players did make a real difference for the Lions.

Stats by Vodacom Rugby

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries:
 Whiteley 2, Van Rooyen, Marx
Cons: Reynolds, Van der Walt
Yellow cards: Coetzee, Ferreira

For Jaguares:
Tries:
 Tuculet, Moyano
Cons: Sánchez 2
Pens: Sánchez 4

Orie gets start for Lions

8

Marvin Orie will make his debut for the Emirates Lions when they take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Shaun Reynolds will also make his first start in Super Rugby while Johannes Jonkers makes his run-on debut.

The team shows nine changes to the side that started against the Waratahs and one positional change with Harold Vorster moving from 13 to 12.

The match will be broadcast at 21:40 (SA time).

Lions Team:

  1. Dylan Smith
  2. Robbie Coetzee
  3. Johannes Jonker
  4. Andries Ferreira
  5. Marvin Orie
  6. Kwagga Smith
  7. Cyle Brink
  8. Warren Whiteley ©
  9. Ross Cronjé
  10. Shaun Reynolds
  11. Anthony Volmink
  12. Harold Vorster
  13. Jacques Nel
  14. Courtnall Skosan
  15. Jaco van der Walt

Replacements 

  1. Malcolm Marx
  2. Jacques van Rooyen
  3. Ruan Dreyer
  4. Lourens Erasmus
  5. Jaco Kriel
  6. Faf de Klerk
  7. Andries Coetzee
  8. Sylvian Mahuza

Lions squad to Argentina without Jantjies, Moster, Mapoe and Van Rensburg

0

The Emirates Lions have named the strongest possible squad for their tour to Argentina this weekend to play the Jaguares.

Coach Ackermann announced that Springboks Elton Jantjies(Maternity leave for the birth of his second child), Franco Mostert(rest), Lionel Mapoe(Rehab), Rohan Janse van Rensburg(funeral of his mother) Ruan Conmbrinck(Still injured) will not form part of the squad that will play the Jaguares.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley will still lead a strong squad to take on the Argentinians on Saturday. The match will be broadcast live at 23:40 (SA time) on Super Sport and one that the Lions will want to win to stay on track early on this season. The Lions had the perfect start with two wins so far from two.

The Lions showed nice progress against the Waratahs after a close win over the Cheetahs in week 1 and would want to build on this going forward.

The Emirates Lions final team for match day will be announced on Thursday 9 March.

Touring Squad:

  1. Jacques van Rooyen
  2. Dylan Smit
  3. Ruan Dreyer
  4. Johannes Jonker
  5. Hencus van Wyk
  6. Malcolm Marx
  7. Robbie Coetzee
  8. Andries Ferreira
  9. Lourens Erasmus
  10. Marvin Orie
  11. Jaco Kriel
  12. Kwagga Smith
  13. Cyle Brink
  14. Ruan Ackermann
  15. Warren Whiteley
  16. Ross Cronjé
  17. Faf de Klerk
  18. Andries Coetzee
  19. Shaun Reynolds
  20. Jaco van der Walt
  21. Courtnall Skosan
  22. Anthony Volmink
  23. Harold Vorster
  24. Jacques Nel
  25. Sylvian Mahuza

South African Group Log

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Lions put 50 points pass Waratahs

3

It was a bonus point win for the Lions over the Waratahs when they beat the Waratahs on Saturday 54-36.

The Lions got an early penalty in the match and went for the attacking lineout. They got another penalty when their drive was agains brought down by Waratahs.

With the second lineout the Lions drived well and Whiteley went of the drive to score the first try and took a lead of 7-0 after 3 min.

The Waratahs took not long to reply to the Lions try with one of their own and made the scores level after 7 min at 7 all.

Both teams were struggling after restarts and giving opertunity to the other side again. The Waratahs then got a yellow tackle for a tip tackle which put extra pressure on them.

The Lions put all the pressure on the Waratahs but they were able to keep the Lions out but did gave away a few penalties.

The Lions setup another attacking lineout from a penalty and it was Ackermann this time over the line to give them a 14-7 lead.

Huge mistake on not exiting porperly gave the Waratahs again the change to draw the scores level when they scored their second try.

The Lions immediately answered back with a brilliant try from Rohan and took the lead back to 21-14 after 22 min.

Some brilliant play from Kriel to send Coetzee over gave the Lions their forth try of the match and a lead of 28-14 after 24 min. The Lions did gave a penalty away which the Waratahs took and mad ethe score 28-17 after 27 min.

The Waratahs agains got a yellow card this time for repeatedly bringing down the drive which the Lions scored their fifth try through Cronje. This brought the score to 32-17 for the Lions.

The Waratahs hit back just before halftime with some briliant work from Hegarty which took the score to 33-24 after 39 min.

That was also the halftime score with both teams worried about their defense in that first half.

The Waratahs early on took the opertunity from a mistake from the Lions to get into Lions twenty two, but Lions defense good enough though to keep them out.

The Lions looked like they were running out of breath and a worrying factor abot their match fitness.

Rohan got a great break and ended off for his second try of the afternoon to extend the Lions lead to 43-24 after 51 min.

The Lions got a yellow card for repeated offenses and gave the Waratahs the oopertunity to strike back and score another try. This made the score 43-29 after 60 min.

Slick hands and speed from the Lions gave them yet another try of the afternoon to extend the lead to 48-29 after 67 min. The Lions kept the speed up in the game as the Waratahs were getting tired late in the game.

The Lions put another try across the Waratahs line with another powerful drive from lineout to take the lead to 55-29.

The Waratahs had the final say with a try to end the macth and a bonus point win for the Lions 54-36.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Whiteley, Ackermann, Janse van Rensburg 2, A Coetzee, Cronjé, Mahusa, Marx
Cons: Jantjies 6
Drop: Jantjies
Yellow Cards: Mostert

For Waratahs:
Tries: Horne, Hooper, Hegarty, McDuling, Folau
Cons: Robinson 3, Hegarty
Pens: Robinson
Yellow Cards: Robinson, Kepu

Lions Hanekom on loan to Kings

0

Midfielder Stokkies Hanekom will join the Southern Kings on loan from the Lions for the duration of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

This was confirmed by the Johannesburg-based franchise on Thursday.

The 27-year-old, who played his junior rugby at Western Province, has been on the Lions’ books since 2013.

Meanwhile, the Lions also announced that centre/wing Koch Marx will join Griquas, also on a loan spell.

SR Preview – Lions v Waratahs

3

The Lions will be at home this weekend when the host the Waratahs on Saturday.

We see three changes for the Lions going into this game with Harold Vorster, Ross Cronjé and Robbie Coetzee all coming into the starting XV.

Vorster is in for Howard Mnisi who injured his knee in the first round clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend. Mnisi will go under the knife next week after the swelling has subsided.

Dylan Smith has recovered from his shoulder injury and comes in on the bench, as does Sylvian Mahuza.

Cronjé will reach a great milestone this weekend, by playing his 50th Super Rugby game for the Lions.

The Lions will be without Stokkies Hanekom and Koch Marx as they both go out on loan with Hanekom joining the Southern Kings and Marx joining the Griquas.

The Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has named an unchanged side for their clash  on Saturday.

Speaking from Johannesburg, Gibson is hoping for a dry track this weekend so his side can get back to playing the style of rugby they enjoy.

The Lions are a strong team and we’re expecting them to be formidable at home,” said Gibson.

The team had some frustrations with our game last weekend when we sat down to review the game.  We know the areas we want to work on coming out of last weekend and just looking forward to playing in front of what we know will be an enthusiastic crowd,” he said.

This will be one of the games to look out for and we can expect some great rugga’s from these two teams. The Lions is not easy at home and the Waratahs will have to play really well to get the points on Saturday.

For the Lions, they need to up their game by 100% from last week. They are not close to the level they produced last year and needs to get back there if they want to be there at the end.

Predictions: At home, can not see the Lions losing this game, Lions by 10 points

Teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques Van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Sylvian Mahuza, 23 Jaco vd Walt

Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Senio Toleafoa, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

Vodacom Super Rugby Log

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11181235319915400
21082032819513300
33201127388900
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Lions suffers huge blow with Mnisi out for 9 months

2

The Emirates Lions have been given a huge blow with the news that star centre Howard Mnisi will be out for 9 month due to multiple ligament injuries he suffered in the opening round of Super Rugby against the Toyota Cheetahs.

He suffered severe injury to his ACL,LCL and PCL ligement. He will have to go for surgery and is expected to take 9 month with his rehab program.

 

Lions get over Cheetah hurdle

0

The Lions scraped through in Bloemfontein when they beat the Cheetahs 28-25 on Saturday.

Both teams started the match throwing the ball around and attacking at every opportunity they got but with that mistakes were in the order of they day.

It was the Cheetahs that started better in the match going through the phases and putting the Lions under pressure but the Lions defense did hold. They were very direct with their attack and made allot of ground in the first few minutes of the game.

When the Lions got a chance to attacking they took the opportunity and force a penalty to get the first points on the board.

Both teams tried to attack but poor handling and decision making came to nothing as they struggled to keep ball in hand for long periods. The field was wet and slippery but that can be no excuse for bad execution from both sides.

The teams were only able to trade penalties in the first half and ended up 6 all at the break.

The Cheetah scored their first try straight after the break when the Lions lost the ball and Rhule ran through for his try. That gave the Cheetahs a lead of 13-7 after 41 min.

The Cheetahs kept the scoreboard ticking over and added two more penalties to get their score to 19 points.

The Lions showed off their ability on counter attack and scored a great try from their own half and added a penalty to get the scoreboard to 19-16 after 62 min but the Cheetahs came back with yet another penalty and had a lead of 22-16 after 65 min.

The game then turned around when Uys was deemed to have taken a Lions drive down. The Lions got a penalty try which gave them a 23-22 lead and Uys got a yellow card for his trouble.

The Cheetahs were able to slot over another penalty which gave then back  the lead but that was short lived after Ross Cronje send Rohan away for the match winning try in the corner.

Was not the best games but a win the Lions will take.

Scorers:

Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rhule. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalties: Zeilinga (6).
Lions –
Tries: Johan Janse van Rensburg (2), penalty try. Conversions: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (3).

SR Preview – Cheetahs v Lions

1

On Saturday we will be able to enjoy the best SA team last year in Super Rugby going to Bloemfontein to play the best team the last years Currie Cup when the Lions meet up with the Cheetahs.

It is being setup as one of the highlights of the opening week of Super Rugby and we can expect a massive game from both these two top teams.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his strongest team possible for the clash against the Lions with Torsten van Jaarsveld who will lead the Cheetahs, as regular skipper Francois Venter is still sidelined with an ankle injury.

I’m satisfied with were we are after the pre-season,” Smith said after naming his side. “Everyone trained really hard and we are as prepared as possible. The majority of the players has played Super Rugby and know what the intensity will be like.

Like most teams the Cheetahs also have some players that will make their debuts in Super Rugby with lock Justin Basson and centre Clinton Swart.

Van Jaarsveld commented on the challenge ahead: “The team has more experience than at the start of 2016. We have a lot of strong leaders in the team and I’m looking forward to see how the team has grown.”

The Lions will have eight Springboks in their starting lineup on Saturday with Warren Whiteley again leading his troops this year in Super Rugby. Lionel Mapoe will move to the right wing for the injured Combrinck and Johannes Jonker will make his Super Rugby debut for the Lions if he takes to the field off the bench.

Howard Mnisi will partner with Rohan in the midfield for the Lions

Prediction: This is an interesting one as no one just comes to Bloem and take a win from any Cheetah side. The Cheetahs have lost some players in the off-season but should have enough to challenge for a win but I think the Lions will get the win by 5 points.

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais

Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Ox Nche, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ryno Benjamin

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Jaco van der Walt

Lions name Super Rugby sqaud

1

Last years finalist the Emirates Lions squad for the upcoming Super Rugby tournament was named by coach Ackermann on Thursday.

He has named a 40-man strong squad which will try and take go one step further and win the competition. The side will once again be captained by Springbok Warren Whiteley and Akermann has named no less than nine Springboks in his sqaud.

The other Springboks in the Lions squad is:

Wing Ruan Combrinck, centres Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lionel Mapoe, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, flank Jaco Kriel, lock Franco Mostert and hooker Malcolm Marx.

Blitzbok Kwagga Smith has also been included and will form part of a now experienced Lions sqaud.

Here is the full squad:

Lions – Justin Ackerman, Ruan Ackermann, Fabian Booysen, Cyle Brink, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronje, Hacjivah Dayimani, Faf de Klerk, Ruan Dreyer, Lourens Erasmus, Andries Ferreira, Corne Fourie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Johannes Jonker, Jaco Kriel, Robert Kruger, Sylvain Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Howard Mnisi, Franco Mostert, Jacques Nel, Marvin Orie, Shaun Reynolds, Sitembiso Sithole, Courtnall Skosan, Dillon Smit, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Smith, Michael Tambwe, Armand van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Jacques van Rooyen, Hencus van Wyk, Anthony Volmink, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley.

Catch our preview on the Lions here

Hoping to be the ‘VICTOR’ in the Lions 7 race

8

RuggaWorld’s Benedict Chanakira will be looking at two of the four contenders who will be gunning for the Lions number 7 jersey following the retirement of Warwick Tecklenburg.

Photo – Frans Lombard – Actionpix

Joshua Strauss, Pierre Spies and Franco van der Merwe were his heroes growing up. Only familiar with just the Lions and the Blue Bulls, these are some of the heroes Victor Sekekete watched in the years he sought to develop a love for the game of rugby. This season Sekekete joins the senior squad of the Lions for the first time. He is happy about adapting quickly to the high standards; “It’s not easy. I was a boy, now I must become a man. The intensity, dedication and belief needs to go up a 100 fold. When you’re a junior you get a bit more leeway, but now, you have none. You have to be accurate and no-one gets donated anything at this level.”

The young man has a beaming face when he starts talking about training with the seniors and the Springboks who have already started to influence his belief and confidence. “It’s a big year and a big challenge but I am eager to get an opportunity to fight with everyone.” Growing up in the ghetto it remains a surprise to many that Victor ended up playing rugby. The 1,96m tall man was more accustomed to playing volleyball and participating in athletics before discovering the oval-ball game.

Introduced to the game in high school, he has never looked back going on to represent the Lions Craven Week side which included some of his current Lions teammates; Dylan Smith, Malcolm Marx, Jaco van der Walt, Koch Marx and Cyle Brink in 2012. He will be hoping to add his name to the Super Rugby list they are already on. Sekekete also wore the South Africa under 20 colors in what has been an illustrious journey.

When you probe him on the ‘transformation’ matter that divides many in South Africa, he pulls a serious face with a hint of a smirk, “The question marks on every player of color? I don’t focus on that issue. Of course no one wants to be seen as a quota. I always work hard and aim to prove that I deserve my spot in any team I play in. This is the world we live in. You have to fight and run your race as a player.” I probe further, whether there is a big disadvantage towards players of color. He smiles, “Yeah, we need time to adapt to the game and it takes a while. We need to learn the culture and embrace it. The game needs to be introduced early on so we can be able to develop the technical and intellectual requirements of the game.”

Having started the game in grade 10, Sekekete has an understanding of how those trials have affected him and how he has emerged victorious. “I am a late bloomer, my close friends in Soweto always ask me why rugby when there is soccer. I just fell in love with this game and want to inspire others to take it up.”

The recent retirement of Warwick Tecklenburg has opened a door, with Sekekete, Ruan Ackerman, Robert Kruger and Cyle Brink vying for the vacant jumper. As the new kid on the block, Sekekete will be hoping to bide his time and grab any chance he receives to impress. “It’s a day to day process, improve on how I was yesterday and be ready for my call up to the army.”

Victor was moved to the backrow from lock, despite being roughly the same height as most of the Union’s locks except for JP du Preez, Sekekete lacks size at just 105kg. He answers with enthusiasm, “I want to be a blindside flank. I am a line out option and a hybrid. My coaches know, if they need me to play lock I can excel there too. I am well aware of my lack of size, it is tough to put on weight, but I am sure I will be 110kg by next season. That is my ideal weight.” Built in the Ardie Savea mold, displaying strengths that are still developing, when competing for the ball at the breakdown, putting in dominant hits in the tackle, making strong ball carries and a dominant lineout option. He’s been putting in the hard work during pre-season and looking forward to getting game time and piping the senior blindside options.

The dedicated family man who loves nothing more than spending time with his family, he is fortunate to have Bobby de Wee, a teammate and roommate who has become a brother. They hold each other accountable and inspired daily. Their bond eases the time away from his family.

He makes use of every opportunity he gets to spend time with the family. As pre-season draws to a close, the Queens High alumnus will be hoping to spend more time playing at Super Rugby matches than at home over the weekends.

 

Lions to good for Baabaas

0

The Lions scored seven tries in their 49-19 win against the SupaBarbarians at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Lions were simply too strong for the make-shift Barbarians team in this friendly fixture. The hosts scored four tries in the first half and led 28-7 at half-time.

Their second-half performance, however, was less convincing. The Lions added their fifth try as the game progressed to the fourth quarter.

The Barbarians scored two tries late in the contest to lend some respectability to the scoreline. The Lions had the final say, though, scoring their seventh try of the match before the final whistle.

Lions – Tries: Jacques Nel, Robert Kruger, Andries Ferreira, Robbie Coetzee, Jarryd Sage (2), Stephan Kotze. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (4), Eddie Fouche (3).
SupaBarbarians – Tries: Sheldon Williamson, Scorer TBC, SJ Niemand. Conversion: Ashlon Davids (2).

Lions – 15 Gerrie Labuschagne, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Selom Gavor, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronjé (c), 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Akker vd Merwe, 17 Sti Sitole, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Bobby de Wee, 21 Hacjiva Dayimani, 22 Victor Sekekete, 23 Dillon Smit, 24 Eddie Fouche, 25 Gerdus van der Walt, 26 Jarryd Sage, 27 Dean Gordon, 28 Jean Luc Cilliers.

SupaBarbarians squad – Aubrey McDonald, Sheldon Williamson, Marco Alberts, Khyle Verwey, Jacques Erasmus, Pieter Botha, Bradley Moolman, Jaco Haywards, Johan Grobler, Robbie Petzer, Ashlon Davids, Siya Masuku, Stokkies du Plessis, Hendrik van der Nest, Samuel Niemand, Francois Robertse, Pieter Mathews, Ian van Deventer, Wikus van der Berg, Ethienne Oosthuizen, Theo Becker, Rudi Mathee, Zander de Kock, Jan-Francois Bester, Armand Jordaan, Johan Pieterse, Bruce Mullen, Rudi Britz.