Lions' Super rugby fate in Saru's hands
TODAY should see the conclusion of the Super rugby participation saga at a meeting of the SA Rugby Union's general council in Cape Town.
Nearly eight months after Saru voted in favour of the Eastern Cape-based Southern Kings participating in Super rugby in 2013, a mechanism on how to accommodate six South African franchises into five places has not been finalised.
It is anticipated that at today's meeting a final decision will be taken on the latter issue and that the Lions, as the team that finished last in this year's Super 15, will fall out of next year's competition.
Short of the Golden Lions Rugby Union coming up with a spectacular proposal, they will have to accept the general council's decision today.
The Lions will have a pathway back into Super rugby at the end of the tournament in 2013, when they will play in a promotion-relegation play-off game against the last-placed South African team.
The Kings are believed to be unhappy that they are only guaranteed one year in Super rugby, but that decision was taken in January and it will not be changed.
The Lions have already made submissions to Saru about how missing out on Super rugby will affect their ability to function as a business and they have asked for some financial help from the ruling body.
Several Lions players have clauses in their contracts allowing them to play Super rugby at other franchises, which would cut the GLRU's expenditure exposure in 2013.
Players who play Super rugby elsewhere will be compensated by the unions that contract them on a short-term basis, which would save the GLRU a few millions in wages.
The GLRU is still in arbitration with franchise partners the Leopards and Pumas over more than R6-million in franchise fees the smaller unions claim is owed to them.
The GLRU is also still in dispute with suspended coach John Mitchell, and a disciplinary hearing between the two parties will continue on September 10.