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Lions go 'toe-to-toe' with SARU

Wed, 22 Aug 2012 19:45
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We are certainly not in sackcloth and ashes, neither bankrupt
Quote-end

The next dramatic chapter in the protracted Super Rugby participation saga will be written in Cape Town on Thursday.

Golden Lions Rugby Union President Kevin de Klerk told this website that he will meet up with the South African Rugby Union hierarchy on Thursday.

This follows the SARU decision last week to axe the Lions and replace them with the Southern Kings in 2013.

The fall-out from the vote at last week's General Council meeting - which went 23-6 in favour of the Kings, with only the Bulls and Sharks supporting the Lions - may cause a few aftershocks in the weeks to come.

The Lions boss, De Klerk, has made his displeasure with the outcome very clear.

But he dismissed the notion that they are on the brink of disaster - a perception heightened with confirmation that they lost the arbitration case against their Super Rugby partners.

"We are certainly not in sackcloth and ashes, neither bankrupt," an agitated De Klerk told this website.

"I am in a meeting tomorrow with the South African Rugby Union, to determine how this all transpired and what measures were put in place to absorb some of the shock [of the Lions' axing from Super Rugby]," he said.

De Klerk added that he wants to know how SARU plan to take this forward.

"The Lions must be supported to remain a power in SA rugby," the Lions boss said, adding that he is not convinced the Kings will make the cut in 2013.

"We must avoid a situation where you lose two unions out of these structures," he said, adding: "If we have just four [strong] unions, where will we end up in SA Rugby.

"We have to box very clever in this regard, we have to  tread very carefully.

"That is why we are going to talk to SARU about the way forward."

De Klerk was originally scheduled to host a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday, but decided to call it off until after his talks with SARU.

He wants to know what the much talked about "assistance" is that SARU promised at their media briefing last week.

De Klerk also thanks the two unions that did support the Lions last week - the Bulls and Sharks.

"They supported us very strongly, but I will never involve them in this fight of ours with SARU ... just because we are going to suffer losses," he said.

"From a moral point of view we have enormous appreciation for their support and we will never forget that [support].

"I have enormous respect for Bryan van Zyl [Sharks CEO] for the manner in which he picked that union [Natal] up and made it the success what it is today, after decades of languishing in the lower leagues."

By Jan de Koning

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