A team is taking part in a competition without needing to qualify on rugby merits
The Golden Lions Rugby Union has been very cautious in their initial reaction to their axing from Super Rugby.
It was confirmed on Thursday - after months of speculation, haggling and postponed meetings - that the Southern Kings will play in the 2013 Super Rugby competition as the fifth franchise in the SA Conference.
The general council of the South African Rugby Union decided that the Lions, the last placed SA team in 2012, will be relegated for the 2013 competition.
Thereafter a promotion-relegation match for participation in 2014 will take place.
Lions President Kevin de Klerk, in a very brief statement on the team's website, said they will hold a media conference next week at which they will reveal their plans for the future.
The statement did not deny or confirm the ongoing reports that the Lions are considering legal action to retain their Super Rugby status.
"We are extremely disappointed at this result," De Klerk said.
"This is a very unfortunate decision, which will result in a team taking part in a competition without needing to qualify on rugby merits," he said of the decision to award the Kings a place in the competition.
The Lions boss stopped short of attacking SARU in his statement, but it is very clear they are not happy.
"We will take time to consider this decision and then to plan our response that best protects our players, staff, stakeholders and supporters," De Klerk added.
Without giving anything more away De Klerk told a media gathering in Cape Town they had hoped the immense amount of work that they did in the background would have culminated in a better result.
De Klerk, however, was pleased that the Lions would have a chance to regain their place.
"This is effectively a four or five month exit to the Super Rugby process, whereby this competition will be revisited in terms of a play-off scenario, and we will contest that - should we still be around at that stage - most vigorously."
The Lions would have a chance to regain their Super Rugby status for 2014.
The executive council determined that the bottom team in 2013 would play in a two-legged promotion-relegation series against the relegated franchise.
The promotion/relegation series will also be in place at the end of 2014, for the 2015 season - at which point the broadcast contract expired.