Lions out to earn respect

2013-01-10 19:25

Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann says they will be using the Lions Challenge to earn the respect of the South African rugby fraternity.

The union on Thursday launched the inaugural Lions Challenge series, which will see them feature in 16 matches to give their players some much needed game-time following a controversial relegation from Super Rugby last year.

The Johannesburg-based franchise organised matches against international teams like Russia and Samoa, a three-week tour of North America, five games against top French opposition, and fixtures against all five South African Super Rugby teams.

The series of games starts next weekend and ends on July 20, with Lions supporters having 12 matches, including a Super Rugby promotion/relegation game on August 3, to look forward to at Ellis Park.

The Russian national squad, with 49 players and management, are currently in Gauteng and would be the Lions' first opponents on January 19.

Ackermann's other international opposition will be on June 1 against Samoa, who will be in the country preparing for their quadrangular tournament against the Springboks, Scotland and Italy.

French powerhouses Montpellier and Grenoble, in contention for the Top 14 semi-finals, will visit in July.

The Lions will also play the Cheetahs, Bulls and Kings in the build-up to this year's Super Rugby competition, and the Stormers and Sharks during the June break.

"There's no doubt that we won't be treating these as friendlies. The team know that already," Ackermann said.

"We're going to be in competition mode. It is about earning back the respect we deserve and we will prepare for it as for any other Super Rugby season; the conditioning and tactics will be done in that same way.

"I hope the attitudes, heart and passion are at that same level because our one common goal is to win back promotion into Super Rugby."

Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) president Kevin de Klerk said at the launch of the series at Ellis Park on Thursday they have put the Super Rugby debacle behind them and are looking to the future.

"We took major umbrage to the decision made in Cape Town last year to relegate us, and the easy route would have been to play the blame game and look for scapegoats," he said.

"But we have decided to get on with the rugby and ensure we continue to serve our stakeholders."

While the GLRU had been forced to loan out star players like Elton Jantjies, Franco van der Merwe, Jaco Taute and Lionel Mapoe, the Lions are confident the Challenge would provide enough of an incentive for the rest of their squad to remain with them during the year.

"To try and fit in a new competition when rugby is played somewhere in the world from January 1 to December 31 was very challenging, but if we had just set up a series of friendlies, then half our players would not be here by the time the promotion/relegation game comes along," said acting GLRU chief executive Ruben Moggee.

Lions' fixture list for 2013 (which includes Lions Challenge matches and excludes Currie Cup games):

19 January: Lions v Russia - Ellis Park, Johannesburg
23 January: Lions v Cheetahs - Ellis Park
2 February: Lions v Bulls - Orlando Stadium, Soweto
9 February: Lions v Kings - Ellis Park
23 February: Namibia v Lions - Windhoek
16 March: Lions v Mont de Marsan - Ellis Park
13 April: US Invitational v Lions - Ervine, California
20 April: US Invitational v Lions - Vancouver, Canada
27 April: Chicago Lions v Lions - Chicago
11 May: Lions v Agen - Ellis Park
1 June: Lions v Samoa - Ellis Park
8 June: Lions v French Barbarians - Ellis Park
15 June: Lions v Stormers - Ellis Park
21 June: Lions v Sharks - Ellis Park
12 July: Lions v Montpellier - Ellis Park
20 July: Lions v Grenoble - Ellis Park
27 July: Super Rugy promotion/relegation first leg -  TBA
3 August: Super Rugby promotion/relegation - Ellis Park


  • banks.mokhachane - 2013-01-10 19:59

    mature players r gna come out of ths experience - nt only on rugby bt on life as well with the touring and all

  • lesbeen - 2013-01-10 20:11

    The Lions are making the best they can of their situation... They refuse to lie down, refuse to cry like babies and are going on with what they are set to do... Play rugby!!! That alone earns them respect! They could have sat back, lost all their players, slid down to currie cup b section and play vodacom cup untill such time as they have some politically inclined management, who could improve their plight by taking advantage of the sensitive political climate in the sport... I don't see that happening! That will earn them respect. Winning some games and proving that rugby is alive and well in Gauteng still, will just serve their purpose of re-entry into super rugby! May this story end as well as it begins...

      timothy.vanas - 2013-01-10 20:19

      @ lesbeen. Awesome could not have said it better.

      BulletjieBulBul - 2013-01-12 06:39

      I agree Lesbeen.... They have already earned my respect with what they are doing. GO LIONS!!! Give them hell!

  • jeanpierre.heyns.1 - 2013-01-10 20:20

    Well done Lions. Wonder why the Kings never did something like this each season, just sitting around and complaining and waiting for the SARU circus free handouts. They could've developed their players to earn a place in super rugby, now just buying and thus using their so called abundance of talent.

      bakkies.bleu - 2013-01-10 22:31

      Jip, just like the rest of the ";freebie" gang in this country. Load of freeloaders. No offense against the loan players, this is meant for the King's management. LEARN From the LIONS.

  • sean.bagley.50 - 2013-01-10 20:34

    It's a real shame that the most financially powerful metropolitan area in South Africa don't have a team representing them in Super Rugby.The Lions have such a long and proud rugby history and yet the glory days of the past are now gone.How the Lions ever ran in such huge debts is shocking.Getting your administration and finances in order first before having to pay out huge salaries to S15 rugby players.

  • leaproach.thekeeper - 2013-01-10 20:46

    Bring the Kings. We can't wait to see how "GOOD" they are........NOT.

  • pcmynhardt - 2013-01-10 20:51

    is any of the games on supersport? If not, why not make a deal with sabc or etv and then i will fully support them whilst saving 700 by not having to pay dstv.

      nico.pretorius.946 - 2013-01-11 07:07

      I know the Russian game will be on SuperSport, and they will probably have the Super15 warmups and the promotion/relegation games as well. Not sure about the rest yet. But yes, agree with you, could have saved a nice 700 bucks a month if the games was on sabc or etv.

  • james.m.turner.35 - 2013-01-10 21:07

    I was there tonight. Went to go get our suite tickets for the season. I heard what the man had to say and you know when someone says something, and you get a kind of chill down your spine because of the way its said? When he said he doesn't believe in "friendlies" , gentlemen, I believed him. He had ice water for blood right there. This is going to be amazing!

  • duncan.gill1 - 2013-01-10 21:08

    The Russian national rugby team will be playing a warm up game against the Jhb Varsity team at the university athletics and rugby stadium next to Westdene dam on Monday coming I have just heard from the Russian team that the game will kick off at 17h00 hours! Lets support this Russian team who have come here to learn from us and give them a real warm SA welcome!

      james.m.turner.35 - 2013-01-10 21:27

      I live right there bud. I will pull in! The boss is away next week at Dakar so 17H00 it is!

      duncan.gill1 - 2013-01-10 21:51

      Lekker tell as many buddies as you can will be great occasion:-)

  • chrisin.oz.1 - 2013-01-10 22:55

    The Lions don't need to earn back respect from the SA public. The Kings will do that for them in the S15.

  • chris.mynhardt.5 - 2013-01-11 00:20

    Thanks Lions for not sitting on your backsides. what you have done ism shown the rest of the rugby union we do not just mope and wait for handouts. now is the time to develop younger players and also improve the various game plans and adapt to the northern hemisphere playing styles. Great season for the Loins and it is actually the best thing to have happened to us the Lions so that the horisons of the game can be broadened. the southern hemisphere games are starting to become more repetative. The Lions are the only team thant actually adapts to the various game situations as they arise on the field. they tend to run more with the ball than the other teams. are all the games going to be broadcast on tv? Again thanks for the great playing program and may we show the union and all other teams what are the Lions made of and we will take the currie cup this year and it will not be stolen as last year by the ref.

  • henri.langeveldt - 2013-01-11 07:05

    Go Lions! As far as I am concerned the Stormers, Kings and Cheetahs do not exist, and will support any foreign team that they play.

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2013-01-11 07:11

      Proudly South African, hey Henry!!

      bootman.bokke - 2013-01-11 07:26

      Oh No!!!! You mean to tell me the Stormers will now have one less bald headed geriatric to support them? How will they survive !!??

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2013-01-11 08:15

      @Wesslev,who u calling a moron?I also dont want the Kings in because of the way they manged to wangle themselves in.As much as I hate to say this but the Lions brought this upon themselves...richest union in the country but they stuffed it up by not buying good enough players and all there politics going on in the boardrooms.

      BulletjieBulBul - 2013-01-12 06:45

      No Lionel... Proudly non Stormer!!!

  • nico.pretorius.946 - 2013-01-11 07:10

    This is going to be a great season for the Lions! I just hope that we can keep the Lions challenge going next year when we play Super rugby again, will be great way to build a proper squad with lots of depth, and I'm sure the additional income stream will be welcomed :) GO LIONS!!!

  • christopher.collings.9 - 2013-01-14 01:56

    bye bye Lions the last kick of a dying horse GLRU

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