Lions seek speedy Super Rugby decision
Lions acting chief executive Ruben Moggee has called for a speedy resolution to the uncertainty over South Africa’s participation in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Moggee said on Thursday the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) had weighed up other options in case they were relegated from Super Rugby.
“We want to make sure that going forward — whatever the type of decision is — we also find a bit of an entrenchment similar to what the Kings would want to have,” said Moggee.
“That you don’t have a situation where you are in one year and out the next year.” His comments come a week before the SA Rugby Union’s (Saru) general council meeting on July 13 in Cape Town where a final decision would be made on who the five SA franchises for the 2013 season should be.
The Southern Kings have been guaranteed a spot in the 2013 season’s SA conference, while the participation of the other four teams still had to be decided.
Moggee said it would be short-sighted to make a decision based on only one season and Saru needed to plan further into the future.
“We need to be mindful of 2014 and 2015 and not only look at 2013,” he said.
“It puts South African rugby in a difficult position because most franchises like us go and contract players for two to three years and make those type of plans.” With the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the union, Moggee said they would continue with their planning for next year, irrespective of what the decision in the Saru boardroom might be.
“It is an untenable situation from the timing perspective where we find ourselves in mid-July and the decision is not clear yet,” Moggee said.
“We are continuing to contract and recruit players for next year and looking at our juniors.
“We’ve not given up so looking at where we want to be, we want to have a competitive squad should we play or should we not play.” He said the bulk of their players had been contracted until next year while their key sponsors remained behind the Lions.
“They (sponsors) have voiced their concerns but what is encouraging for us is that we have met with all of our main sponsors and they are all on board for next year irrespective of what happens to the Lions,” he said.
The current proposal on the table is that the last-placed team in the SA conference would play a promotion/relegation match against the non-Super Rugby franchise after the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“The challenge in South Africa is that you don’t have that fallback tournament here,” Moggee said.
“You can decide to go and play in the Heineken Cup for example as a South African team but it will take you three years as you walk through the two championships before that to proceed.” Moggee said there were possibilities of creating an alternative competition for the team that was relegated.
“There isn’t a fallback tournament at present so you’ll have to create something,” he said.
“There is an opportunity, I believe, with the South American and Japanese teams where you’ll have to put something together there.” He believed that if Super Rugby were to expand many of the teams would come from South America.
“So if you start to go that route in the next year to put something together there might be the alternative,” said Moggee.
“But there isn’t an alternative tournament to slot in for six to seven months as we presently stand.”