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The hard work starts now
Aug 5, 2013 - The Lions lost 18-23 to the Kings at Ellis Park on Saturday, but it was still enough to win promotion to Super Rugby in 2014, because the Lions beat the Kings 26-19 in PE a week earlier. In the end the Lions had a points difference of +2 from the two matches, which means the Kings lose their Super Rugby status while the Lions will once again play Super Rugby next year.

It was a massive effort from the Lions after a very difficult first part of 2013, where the top players had to settle for Vodacom Cup rugby as well as friendly matches against a variety of local and overseas competition. The union admitted that they lost about a third of their yearly income because they didn't take part in Super Rugby, and if the result went against the Lions on Saturday, 2014 would probably have been much worse.

The support for the Lions was massive, as 54551 spectators showed up at Ellis Park, a new record for a Super Rugby match. The Lions made a lot of mistakes in the match, but it was perfectly understandable given the importance of the match, as everything was at stake, and in the end the Lions won back what was taken away from them by vote last year this time.

The hard work starts now, we need to make sure that the sponsors put us in a position to keep the current squad contracted, as well as being able to expand and strengthen the squad for next year so that we are not in Super Rugby to make up the numbers, but to be competitive.

Sadly it was the last match of captain JC Janse van Rensburg, who has taken up a two-year contract to play in France, as well as Hendrik Roodt, who is also French-bound. JC spent 8 years at the Lions and has become one of the best loosehead props in the country, and it's a mystery why he isn't in the Bok squad that was announced on Saturday.

Now for the long wait...
July 14, 2013 - The Lions defeated Griquas 26-12 in the 10th and last match of the Lions Challenge at Ellis Park on Saturday, and now the long wait for the first promotion / relegation match starts. It takes place in Port Elizabeth on 26 July, so only 12 days to go, but I'm sure it's going to be an agonizing 12 days for Lions and Kings supporters alike.

I hear a number of people are critical about Saturday's 26-12 win over Griquas, well, let me quickly remind you that we played them twice in the Currie Cup last year and we lost both matches. In the match at Ellis Park they beat us 42-32, scoring 5 tries to 4, and in Kimberley they beat us 37-21, scoring 4 tries to 2. In my book it's a huge positive that we managed to get a victory against a team that basically beat us comprehensively twice last year, and the fact that we kept them try-less.

What these nay-sayers should also remember is that we also rested a number of our players yesterday, which means that we should be able to pick a stronger starting XV than the one against Griquas.

We struggled in the line-outs, but keep in mind that we didn't start with the regular two Locks or the regular Hooker. With loan players Callie Visagie, Martin Bezuidenhout and Franco van der Merwe due back at the Lions tomorrow, they should also be able to help us do better in this department in two weeks time, although I would prefer that we start with the players that played together the last six months and put the returning loan players on the bench.

Our scrums were excellent like always, and we even got two or three tight heads in the match, though we tried for push over tries on about two occasions that did not come off.

This Griquas side is a good side, and mark my words, they are going to scare a few of the other big unions in the coming Currie Cup, they've got big players and they employed the rush defense quite effectively against us yesterday, with Flyhalf Francois Brummer keeping us out of their half with his powerful boot and keeping them in the game with the four penalties.

We did well in our last two matches with victories over the Sharks and Griquas, and I think we are as ready as we will ever be for the crucial two matches coming up.

Management continuity at the Lions
June 13, 2013 - The Lions Annual General Meeting took place on Monday 10 June, and the good news is that the whole Exco was re-elected unopposed for another 4-year term. This will ensure continuity in Management for the next four years, and also make sure that the current management can oversee the process of getting back in Super Rugby and hopefully manage the process of the Lions staying in Super Rugby next year and securing sponsorships to sort out the finances.

Talking of finances, the Lions had a much better financial year in 2012, where they managed to halve the loss that was made in 2011. Hopefully this trend can be continued for the 2013 financial year, but one will have to see how much the finances will be impacted by the fact that we were excluded from Super Rugby this year.

Lions USA touring squad named
April 3, 2013 - The Lions named their touring squad for the two Lions Challenge matches in the USA on Wednesday. It contains 27 players and they will depart for the USA on Sunday 7 April, and then play two matches against a USA Invitational side, one in Los Angeles, California on 13 April and one in Houston, Texas on 20 April.

Full Squad:
JC Janse van Rensburg, Gavin Annandale, Michael Bondesio, Marnitz Boshoff, Willie Britz, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Guy Cronje, Lionel Cronje, Ross Cronje, Dylan des Fountain, Ruan Dreyer, JP du Plessis, Francois du Toit, Deon Helberg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Ruhan Nel, Julian Redelinghuys, Hendrik Roodt, Warwick Tecklenburg, Deon van Rensburg, Jacques van Rooyen, Anthony Volmink, Warren Whiteley.

Lions beat Mont de Marsan 56-24
March 16, 2013 - The Lions beat French Top 14 side Mont-de-Marsan 56-24 at Ellis Park on Saturday, after leading 28-14 at the break.

The Lions were far too strong for the opposition, who is facing relegation after just one season in the Top 14, but both sides played open running rugby and that lead to 12 tries being scored in the match, 8 by the Lions and 4 by Mont-de-Marsan.

Lions: Tries: Hendrik Roodt (2), Derick Minnie, Michael Bondesio, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ruhan Nel, Andries Coetzee, Guy Cronje Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (6), Lionel Cronje (2)
Mont de Marsan: Tries: Baleinadogo (2), Mazzonetto, Giudicelli, Conversions: Arrayet (2)

Lions beat Kings 41-31
February 9, 2013 - The Lions beat the Kings 41-31 at Ellis Park on Saturday, after leading 22-7 at the break.

The Lions started the stronger of the two teams, but could only get something for their dominance of the match after 16 minutes into the game when Marnitz Boshoff kicked a penalty. The Kings then took a quick throw at the line-out and caught the Lions totaly unaware and this allowed Rynier Bernardo to score for the Kings, with Wesley Dunlop adding the conversion to give the Kings a 7-3 lead after 22 minutes.

The Lions hit right back with a converted try by Hendrik Roodt when they mauled form a lineout to go back in a 10-7 lead, and then in the 32nd minute JJ Breet scored a fantastic try in the right corner after the Lions had a man over on the right. Boshoff missed the conversion, but the Lions were now leading 15-7, and just four minutes later Ruan Dreyer scored another for the Lions, this time converted, to make it 22-7 at the break.

Just four minutes in to the second half Roodt scored his second try of the match to put the Lions in a 27-7 lead. Johan Herbst then scored a brilliant individual try for the Kings, beating a few Lions defenders, and this was converted by Dunlop to make the score 27-14.

Warwick Tecklenburg then increased the Lions lead with a converted try to 34-14 on 60 minutes, and then we saw an impressive fightback from the Kings, with Herbst scoring a second and then Hadleigh Parkes also scoring to make it 34-28 for the Lions with just 10 minutes left in the match. On 74 minutes Whitehead kicked a penalty to reduce the Lions lead to just 3, and with just six minutes left it was anyones game.

Warwick Tecklenburg then scored his second just before time to put the result beyond doubt, the Lions running out victors 41-31. Scorers:
Lions: Tries: Hendrik Roodt (2), JJ Breet, Ruan Dreyer, Warwick Tecklenburg (2), Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (3), Lionel Cronjé, Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff
Kings: Tries: Rynier Bernardo, Johan Herbst (2), Hadleigh Parkes, Conversions: Wesley Dunlop (3), George Whitehead, Penalties: George Whitehead

Lions change 6 for Kings clash
February 8, 2013 - Lions coach Johan Ackermann made six changes to the side that will play the Kings at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Three of the changes are positional with Andries Coetzee moving from Fullback to Right Wing, replacing Deon Helberg, with Marnitz Boshoff moving to Fullback from Flyhalf, and Derick Minnie moving from Flanker to Number Eight, replacing the injured Willie Britz.

The other three changes sees Lionel Cronje starting at Flyhalf, Ross Cronje replacing the injured Michael Bondesio at Scrumhalf, and JJ Breet starting at Flanker.

The match is seen as a grudge match by many after the Kings replaced the Lions in the 2013 Super Rugby competition in August 2012, many people say without any merit, but Ackermann stressed the point that the Lions sees this match the same as any other and just want to win at the end of the day.

The team is:
15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 JJ Breet, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert , 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Gavin Annandale, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dylan des Fountain

Bulls beat Lions in exciting match
February 2, 2013 - The Bulls beat the Lions 38-32 at Orlando stadium in Soweto on Saturday, after leading 22-17 at the break.

The Lions were caught off-guard when the Bulls scored their first try in the first minute of the match, this after the Lions lost the ball on the attack and the Bulls scored with the counter.

Marnitz Boshoff then replied with a massive 60 meter drop goal, but soon the Bulls scored another try by Jurgen Visser, and were leading 12-3 after 14 minutes.

Just a minute later Lionel Mapoe also crossed the Lions try-line, but luckily for the Lions the TMO spotted a forward pass a few phases back and the try was overruled.

Minutes later Grant Hattingh did score a valid try for the Bulls, and the score was now 19-3 for the Bulls after just 27 minutes, and things looking a bit bleak for the Lions.

Franco Mostert and Jaco Kriel then scored two quick tries for the Lions, and Tiaan Schoeman had the last say in the first half for the Bulls with a penalty to make it 22-17 at the break, with the Lions certainly back in the match.

In the second half Schoeman and Boshoff each added a penalty before Volmink scored for the Lions, with the conversion putting the Lions in a 27-25 lead with 30 minutes to go.

Two more Bulls penalties gave the lead back to the Bulls, and then Visser sealed the Bulls win with a try 5 minutes from time. The Lions had the final say when Kriel scored his second on 80 minutes, but it was too late and the Bulls won 38-32.

Lions: Tries: Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel(2), Anthony Volmink, Drop goals: Marnitz Boshoff, Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff(3), Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff
Bulls: Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jurgen Visser(2), Grant Hattingh, Conversions: Tiaan Schoeman(2), Handrè Pollard Penalties: Tiaan Schoeman(3), Handrè Pollard

Lions change six for Bulls clash
January 31, 2013 - The Lions side to play the Bulls at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday was announced today and shows six changes from the side that beat the Cheetahs last weekend.

Andries Coetzee is back at Flyhalf and replaces Marnitz Boshoff, who will start at Flyhalf in the place of Guy Cronje, who joins UJ for their Varsity Cup campaign. Deon Helberg replaces Ruhan Nel at Right Wing, with Nel named on the bench. Michael Bondesio replaces Ross Cronje at Scrumhalf, with Ross named on the bench. Franco Mostert and Hendrik Roodt will start at Lock in the place of Hugo Kloppers and Gavin Annandale. On the bench Warwick Tecklenburg makes a return after a stellar game against Russia two weeks ago. Alwyn Hollenbach will undergo a fitness test before the match and if he can't play is likely to be replaced by Lionel Cronje, who had a great game against the Cheetahs at Inside Centre off the bench.

This is probably not too far off from the strongest side that the Lions could name at this stage, and it will be interesting to see how they do against a very young Bulls side, missing most of the players that is likely to start in their Super Rugby campaign.

The team is:
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert , 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c). Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Ruhan Nel

Strong second half gives Lions the win over Cheetahs
January 27, 2013 - The Lions beat the Cheetahs 33-17 at Ellis Park on Saturday, after trailing 12-7 at the break.

The Cheetahs started the stronger of the two teams and JP Nel scored the first try for the Cheetahs after ten minutes. Ruhan Nel then answered with a try for the Lions, after a good run from Jaco Kriel and offloading to Nel for the try. From the kickoff the Lions then spilt the ball and the Cheetahs hit right back with another soft try from Rhule in the left corner, and that gave the Cheetahs the halftime lead of 12-7.

Ten minutes into the second half Daniller extended the Cheetahs lead to ten points when he scored in the left corner, and from here on the Lions woke up and scored 26 unanswered points for the 33-17 victory.

First Stokkies Hanekom chipped a ball over the defender and brilliantly regathered the ball to fall over for the try, then Bondesio kicked a ball ahead down the left touch line where Volmink gathered the ball and outsprinted the defense to score under the poles, then Lionel Cronje scored a brilliant try in the left corner, and finally Lionel Cronje intercepted a Cheetahs pass and put Stokkies Hanekom away for his second try of the game.

The Lions will certainly be pleased with the way that the guys put up their hands for this match, and I think Lionel Cronje and Stokkies Hanekom played well for the Lions. The Lions also dominated the scrums, while they will probably want to work a bit on taking the ball from kickoffs.

Lions: Tries: Ruhan Nel, Stokkies Hanekom(2), Anthony Volmink, Lionel Cronje, Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff(4)
Cheetahs: Tries: JP Nel, Hennie Daniller, Raymond Rhule, Conversions: Francois Brummer

Lions named for Cheetahs clash
January 25, 2013 - Lions coach Johann Ackermann announced the side to play the Cheetahs on Thursday, and made no less than nine changes from the side that beat the Russian Bears last Saturday.

Ackermann did say that he intended to give all the players in the 35-man squad a chance to fight for a place in the starting XV, so we should see plenty of changes for the first few matches.

Alwyn Hollenbach and Jaco Kriel return to the starting XV at Inside Centre and Fetcher Flank, taking the places of Vorster and Tecklenburg, who are both rested for this match. Marnitz Boshoff gets a start at Fullback in the place of Coetzee, while Ruhan Nel starts at Right Wing, replacing Helberg. Brothers Guy and Ross Cronje starts at Flyhalf and Scrumhalf, replacing Lionel Cronje and Bondesio, who will both be on the bench. Hugo Kloppers and Gavin Annandale start at Lock, replacing Mostert and Roodt, while Francois du Toit will start at Hooker in the place of Martin Bezuidenhout, pictured on the left, who will be loaned to the Stormers for two months of Super Rugby to help with their injury problems at Hooker.

The team is:
15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Guy Cronje, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Gavin Annandale, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Claude Tshidibi, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Andries Coetzee

Strong start for the Lions against Russia
January 19, 2013 - The Lions started the Lions Challenge with a good win over Russia on Saturday, beating them 51-13 after leading 20-3 at the break.

The Lions initially dominated posession in the match, but solid defense from the Russians prevented them from crossing the try-line, and the first points in the match came from two Lionel Cronje penalties in the first 10 minutes to put the Lions in a 6-0 lead. Then the Russians got their hands on the ball and looked good with it for a while, before Deon Helberg scored a long range try from inside the Lions half with the conversion from Cronje making it 13-0 to the Lions.

Three minutes before the break the Russians got their first points when Fullback Klyuchnikov kicked a penalty, and then the Lions were awarded a penalty try on the stroke of halftime when the Russians infringed in a scrum five meters from their line. Cronje kicked the conversion to put the Lions in comfortable 20-3 lead at the break.

The Russians scored first in the second half when Klyuchnikov added another penalty, but just three minutes later the Russians received a second yellow card and with just 13 players on the field and 6 in the scrum they conceded another penalty try after a scrum 5 meters from their try-line went awry. Cronje kicked the conversion to make the score 27-6 for the Lions.

The Russians then scored a try from the kickoff when the ball wasn't secured by the Lions and kicked through where Makovetsky got his hands on the ball first in the Lions in goal area. Klyuchnikov converted to make it 27-13 for the Lions with 30 minutes to play.

The Lions then dominated the last 25 minutes when they scored tries by Roodt, Tecklenburg, Boshoff and Nel, with Cronje adding a conversion and Boshoff two conversions to give the Lions the 51-13 win.

The Lions will be pleased with the outcome, as there were no injuries and also no glaring problems that popped up during the match, but the match against the Cheetahs next Saturday will definitely be much tougher and be a better indication of where the Lions stand with their rugby at the moment. All five debutants in the starting XV did well, but I will give Lionel Cronje the man of the match for getting his backline away nicely and also for not missing any goal kicks.

Lions: Tries: Deon Helberg, Hendrik Roodt, Warwick Tecklenburg, Marnitz Boshoff, Ruhan Nel and 2 penalty tries, Conversions: Lionel Cronje(3), Marnitz Boshoff(2), Penalties: Lionel Cronje(2)
Russia: Tries: Makovetsky, Conversions: Klyuchnikov, Penalties: Klyuchnikov(2)

Lions team to play Russia named
January 17, 2013 - Coach Johann Ackermann announced the Lions side to play Russia on Thursday, and there weren't many surprises, with the coach picking close to a full strength side from the available players.

Five players will make their debut for the Lions, namely the two Centres Harold Vorster and Stokkies Hanekom, the Flyhalf Lionel Cronje, Flanker Warwick Tecklenburg and Lock Franco Mostert. Hanekom played for Griquas in 2012, while Vorster played Flyhalf for the Lions U19 side. Lionel Cronje played Flyhalf for the Bulls in 2012, Mostert played Lock at the Bulls, and Tecklenburg Flanker at the Bulls.

Alwyn Hollenbach and Jaco Kriel were fit to be picked for the match, but they are coming back from injuries so Ackermann thought it best to rest them another week. Deon van Rensburg is still out injured and will only be back at the end of February, while Ruan Combrinck will have a shoulder operation on Friday and will be out for between 3 and 4 months.

The team is:
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg(c).
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Jacques Kotze, 19 Hugo Kloppers, 20 Claude Tshibidi, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Ruhan Nel

Lions announce Challenge squad
January 15, 2013 - On Tuesday the Lions announced a 35-man squad that will take part in the Lions Challenge series that kicks off against Russia this Saturday at Ellis Park.

15 of the players are yet to make their debut for the Lions, but there are experienced players as well like captain JC Janse van Rensburg, Derick Minnie and CJ van der Linde, while some of the players named in the squad are currently injured and will miss the first part of the Challenge, like Deon van Rensburg (out until end of February), Ruan Combrinck (out for 3 to 4 months with a shoulder injury) and Dylan des Fountain.

Some of the new players are guys that came through the ranks and still played for the Lions U/19 and U/21 teams in 2012, and hopefully they will grab this opportunity they get and make the most of it.

The full squad is:
Loosehead Prop: JC Janse van Rensburg, Jacques van Rooyen
Hooker: Martin Bezuidenhout, Robbie Coetzee, Francois du Toit
Tighthead Prop: Ruan Dreyer, CJ van der Linde, Jacques Kotze
Lock: Willie Britz, Franco Mostert, Hendrik Roodt, JJ Breet, Gavin Annandale, Hugo Kloppers
Loose Forward: Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Warwick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley, Claude Tshibidi
Scrumhalf: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje
Flyhalf: Marnitz Boshoff, Guy Cronje, Lionel Cronje, Harold Vorster
Centre: Dylan des Fountain, Alwyn Hollenbach, Deon van Rensburg, Stokkies Hanekom, Jacques Nel
Wing: Ruan Combrinck, Deon Helberg, Anthony Volmink
Fullback: Andries Coetzee, Ruhan Nel

Lions Challenge launched
January 10, 2013 - The Lions launched the Lions Challenge series in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon. The tournament will see the Lions take on a total of sixteen teams, including international outfits such as Russia, Samoa and Namibia, local sides the Bulls, Sharks, Cheetahs and Stormers and French teams such as Montpellier, Mont de Marsan, Grenoble and Agen, and it takes place between January and July this year.

This is to prepare the Lions for their promotion/relegation matches in July/August, to try and win back their Super Rugby participation in 2014.

GLRU President Kevin de Klerk emphasised the importance of the tournament as a motivating factor for the players, coaches and management staff following the Lions’ exclusion from Super Rugby. “Our absolute philosophy was to keep going and come together as an outfit to ensure that we as a Union – staff and players – had something to work with, and for, in place of Super Rugby,” explained De Klerk. “We are excited to see our hard work come to life when the tournament gets under way next week.”

In the picture some of the Lions players can be seen wearing the jersey for the 2013 season.

The challenge kicks off against Russia on 19 January, and a full fixture list is available on the fixtures page here

Happy new year and all the best for 2013!
January 5, 2013 - I want to wish all the regular visitors to Lionsworld all the best for 2013. May it be a year of spectacular success for all of us, and even more so for our beloved Lions rugby team! Amazingly our website turns 17 this year, in a few years time the website will be older than most Lions players!

Looking forward: Super Rugby kicks off during February, and as we all know by now the Lions will not be taking part this year. It's sad that we were voted out of the competition, but if we are honest about it, we deserved to be kicked out, after finishing last in 3 of the 6 years that we took part from 2007 to 2012, and never higher than 3rd last the other 3 years. So instead of playing Super Rugby, the Lions organised their own competition or challenge, which kicks off on the 19th of January against the Russian national team, and will finish in July. At the end of July we will then play in two promotion/relegation matches against the bottom placed South African team in the Super 15, which is likely to be the Kings, although it might also be the Cheetahs. It is absolutely crucial for the future of Lions rugby that we win our Super Rugby status back in those two matches.

The Lions appointed a new CEO, Manie Booysen, at the end of 2012, and he basically starts when the offices open on Monday 7 January. Manie will have his work cut out to try and turn around the fortunes of the union, where we have seen very little other than decline over the last decade or so. I was surprised that the union appointed a person as old as Manie and with so little rugby background, as there were other candidates for the position with vast rugby management experience, but now that he is the CEO he has my support and I really hope he makes a huge success of his job at the Lions.

What many visitors to my site might not know, is that we have a forum where we talk rugby all the time, so don't delay, come and join us, click here to join the rest of the guys!  

We are also on twitter, follow me here  
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