Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - The people have spoken: it is the Lions who are likeliest to disappear from Super Rugby if it cannot be expanded to accommodate the Southern Kings.
Some 6 000 Sport24 readers responded to our poll asking the topical question: “Which of the five South African Super Rugby franchises is ‘favourite’ for the wooden spoon in this year’s local conference?”
It is pertinent because, with negative sentiment coming from the other SANZAR partners around the possibility of swelling the competition somehow to 16 teams - thus six from South Africa - the last-placed SA team this year may be the one to make the costly sacrifice.
And our readers suggest the financially-troubled Lions, despite being Currie Cup champions, will be the ones to bring up the rear in the conference.
They earned 32% of “support” for the wooden spoon, fairly closely followed by the Cheetahs on 29%.
That echoes what happened last season, when the Lions were second-last on the overall table, only superior to the Melbourne Rebels, whilst the Free Staters finished 11th, and second from bottom in purely SA terms.
But the Sharks getting the smallest percentage in the poll (11%) is interesting because it obviously implies that readers back the Durban franchise, and not last season’s best SA conference side the Stormers, to fare best among the South Africans.
The Stormers got 13% of the vote, and the Bulls 14, suggesting that the men from Loftus will be the mid-tablers in the local conference, although it looks tight between the traditional “big three” in our country ...