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White: Injustice to drop Lions
Jake White (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Former Springbok coach Jake White says it would be a tragedy if a team with as much rugby history as the Lions were to drop out of the Super Rugby competition.
The Lions are in danger of losing their Super Rugby slot to make way for the Southern Kings in next year's competition.
"I hope it doesn't happen, the reality is especially a franchise like the Lions has a lot of history," White said after his Brumbies side beat the Lions 34-20 at Coca-Cola Park on Friday.
"I was saying to Kevin de Klerk (Golden Lions Rugby Union president) upstairs we started in 1996 as a Brumbies squad, if you think about it the Lions started a hundred years before us.
"It would be a massive injustice if you don't have a team that is a hundred-and-something years old to actually be a part of it."
White said it was an issue the South African rugby decision makers had to finalise as a matter of urgency.
"I just don't think you should be chucking those sort of years and years of history out of the window," he said.
"But it is a tough call because at the end of the day, six does not go into five, and if they've made a commitment they've got to find a way in which they could fit six into five.
"The Southern Kings are the only confirmed team for the 2013 competition, while the other four South African places have yet to be determined.
The SA Rugby Union (SARU) and a delegation were still due to have a meeting with SANZAR partners, Australia and New Zealand, to have discussions on a possible expansion of the competition.
If SARU fails to come to an agreement with SANZAR, the remaining spot in the South African conference is likely to be decided by relegation.
With the Lions still languishing at the bottom of the Super Rugby log at this early stage of the competition they are in serious jeopardy of losing their spot, if they do not turn the tables soon.
The Lions have lost seven matches on the trot since the start of this year's Super Rugby season.
White was sympathetic towards the Lions as he felt the uncertainty of their participation in next year's competition did not help their cause.
"And people can say whatever they like, to win the Currie Cup, in this country - doesn't matter who you play - to beat the Sharks in the final is massive but then to lose nine players and then start from scratch, there is no franchise in the world that can do it," White said.
"Even the Bulls, if you take nine players out when they were at the peak of their game they also would have struggled.
"White said the only way for the Lions to stop their losing streak was to be consistent and show faith in the players they had at their disposal.
"I don't want to get into the whole political wrangle but how hard must it be to try and contract players for the Lions next year if you don't even know if you are in or out?
"How hard is it to know, whether you are going to get a sponsor if you don't know whether you are playing Super Rugby or not?"