Swys backs future Lions despite European departures

    2018-08-06 09:48

    Johannesburg - The Lions have lost a number of players to Europe at the end of Super Rugby 2018, but coach Swys de Bruin remains optimistic about the future.

    The Johannesburg-based franchise went down 37-18 to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday in what was their third straight Super Rugby final without success. 

    While the Lions haven't managed to get over the line in the competition, they have become easily South Africa's most successful franchise since the Bulls side that dominated the competition from 2007 to 2010. 

    The work started by former coach Johan Ackermann in 2013 has seen the franchise go from being relegated from Super Rugby to three-time runners-ups in just five years. 

    But, times have changed somewhat at Ellis Park. 

    Ackermann left the franchise at the end of 2017, taking his son Ruan with him, and there are more players leaving this year. 

    Franco Mostert, Ruan Dreyer, Jaco Kriel (all Gloucester) and Rohan Janse van Rensburg have all played their last Super Rugby matches for the Lions. 

    But De Bruin, speaking after Saturday's final at the end of his first season in charge of the Lions, said that the future remained bright.

    "I believe in seasons and this is the season for a few players to move on and we have a few going to Europe," he said.

    "We've got a wonderful youth system and our recruitment has been good.

    "Over the last five or six years our U19s and U21s have been winning and lifting trophies. We're very proud of what we have achieved back home in South Africa.

    "I believe in the future."

    De Bruin is expected to join up with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus in Stellenbosch this week, where he will continue in his role as an attacking consultant to the national side ahead of this year's Rugby Championship.

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