Lions get early crack at Kings

Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:26
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The Lions will be one of the first teams to get a crack at the side that replaced them as a Super Rugby franchise, the Southern Kings.

The Lions will be one of the first teams to get a crack at the side that replaced them as a Super Rugby franchise, the Southern Kings.

Kevin de Klerk, the Golden Lions Rugby Union President, at a breakfast talk on Wednesday gave an insight into what teams are being lined up by his union while they bide their time on the Super Rugby sidelines.

Although most of the matches are still awaiting IRB sanction, the Lions will line up a host of international teams - including Russia, Samoa and the French Barbarians.

Four of the five South African franchises in the 2013 Super Rugby competition - the Bulls, Stormers, Cheetahs and Sharks - have already confirmed.

However, it is the pre-season encounter with the Kings - a match still to be confirmed - that will attract most attention for the Lions and their fans.

Ruben Moggee, the GLRU Chief Executive, confirmed that letters have been sent and the clubs are in the process of accepting them.

"The games against four South African franchises have been confirmed," Moggee told this website, adding that they are still waiting for a date from the Kings.

However, the Lions will get an early shot for 'revenge' on the Kings.

"The game will be before their entry into Super Rugby," Moggee said, adding: "They want to use it as a warm-up game."

The GLRU boss said they hope to have all the matches finalised by the end of next week.

All these games will be without players like Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute (Stormers), Franco van der Merwe (Sharks) and Lionel Mapoe (Bulls) - who will go on loan to other franchises.

Other teams being lined up, although the matches have yet to ratified by the IRB, are Glasgow Warriors, Agen, Grenoble, Montpellier, the Texas Cup champions and the US Barbarians (twice).

The encounters against the American teams will be part of a tour by the Lions, who will play 15 games - with at least 11 of these hosted in Johannesburg.

The GLRU are also negotiating with a pay-TV station to broadcast all their matches.

It is expected that the Lions will get their 2013 campaign underway when they face Russia in Johannesburg on January 19.

That will be followed by encounters with the Bulls, Cheetahs and the Kings.

Their encounters with the Stormers and Sharks are provisionally scheduled for June, when the Super Rugby season takes a break during the mid-year international window.

Either Italy or Scotland, who tour South Africa in June next year, could be added to the Lions' roster.

And in a further boost for the Johannesburg fans, the All Blacks could play the Springboks at Ellis Park - which will be a handy cash fillip for the GLRU.

By Jan de Koning

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