Lions eyeing South America & Japan

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:46
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The Lions are investigating the formation of a new tournament that will incorporate South American and Japanese teams.

The Lions are investigating the formation of a new tournament that will incorporate South American and Japanese teams, should their Super Rugby participation come to an end.

The Lions are at the centre of a messy situation, with SARU still undecided on how to accommodate the Southern Kings in the next year's Super Rugby competition.

Should the Lions be culled in favour of making room for the Kings to join Super Rugby, the Johannesburg-based franchise have been working on some contingency plans.

The Golden Lions Rugby Union's acting Chief Executive, Ruben Moggee, believes there are possibilities of creating an alternative competition for any team that is relegated from Super Rugby.

"There isn't a fallback tournament at present, so you'll have to create something," Moggee 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."

However, the Lions haven't given up their fight for Super Rugby survival, but have called for a speedy resolution to the uncertainty over which teams will represent South Africa in next year's competition.

"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."

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."

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."

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