'Lions could show the way for alternative competition'
Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) president Kevin de Klerk believes the Lions could pave the way for a possible alternative competition to Super Rugby for South Africa.
De Klerk said his union had been hard at work securing competition for their team after they were relegated from next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“There is a very strong possibility that the Lions could show South Africa a different way regarding these competitions,” De Klerk said.
He said the GLRU made good progress in securing possible competition against teams from Europe, America and the South Sea Islands.
The union had to find alternative competition for the team ahead of a promotion-relegation match at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season against the bottom team in the South African conference.
“We are pretty much well down the road in securing that, it is the Golden Lions’ efforts so far that has enabled that to happen,” he said.
“We have to put together a pretty good tournament that would be of the equivalent standard of Super 15, which will give our players the right kind of competition that people like Heyneke Meyer and SA Rugby could have a look at effectively.” It has been suggested before that the country should look to the Northern Hemisphere as an alternative to the current Super Rugby competition, involving teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The argument is that it would make travelling easier, as teams would not have to travel across timelines, as South African teams currently do in Super Rugby.
It is further argued that a competition with Europe would be conducive for broadcasting with little or no time difference.
De Klerk said there had been calls from fans for a new competition, to rejuvenate their appetite for rugby.
“If I talk to the people they say ’please give us something else, please give us another competition — we would love to see the French clubs play here, [we] would like to see the Americans or South Sea Islands here’,” he said.
“It might just be very appetising for all of us here in South Africa to look at that.” He said if their plans panned out, it might me a viable option for them to remain in that competition.
“It might just be that this competition suits us, but the decision would rest with us if we would like to proceed with that competition in 2014, and it might suit us better,” De Klerk said.
He added that the idea would be to play home-and-away matches that would appease fans, players and stakeholders.
“It will also be on a home-and-away basis so our players will also have an opportunity to go to Europe or America,” he said.
“We are working very hard on those aspects and we are well down the road to tying those up.
“The bulk (of the matches) will take place in South Africa.
“We are trying to hold more games than we would have played anyway, had we been in Super 15.” De Klerk said the GLRU was hopeful that they would be able to confirm the competition for his side within the next two weeks.
Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann said competition against different opposition would also encourage his players, after the side was relegated from next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“It is a great opportunity for players to realise there will be games that will be at a high level,” Ackermann said.
“We’ve got such a young group, so it is not the end of the world if you miss six months of your life of Super Rugby, but you play a different competition, and we will be back in Super Rugby after that.”