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Random toughts of a Sports Lover…

No Lions, No Cry.. – By Uysh

“Oh no! No Rions!!

So, it’s been just about confirmed. The Lions and Cheetahs are not just playing for pride anymore this year, they are playing for survival. SARU has all bu t confirmed that only the top 4 finishers on the log will go through to next year’s Super Rugby tournament, while someone will be left out. The Cheetahs are currently placed 11th on the overall log with 4 wins under the belt, while the Lions are 14th on the log with only 1 victory, over the Cheetahs nogal, under the belt.

It’s not clear skies for the Cheetahs just yet though. They still have to play 6 gruelling matches. Two against the Stormers, two against the Sharks, one against the Bulls and one against the Waratahs. That would most likely leave them with an additional 8 points (one victory over the Sharks in a victory over the Waratahs), pushing them up to 34 points.  The Lions on the other hand, well, for them there are no easy games either, but they do have some winnable games. The Rebels, Force, Blues and even the Reds are not at their best at the moment, and winning those encounters would give the Lions and additional 16 points, pushing them up to 30 points. Add a bonus point loss here or there, and maybe an upset win over the Sharks in Johannesburg before the test series against England, and they might well save themselves.

It might well be telling, and a move that might relegate the Cheetahs, if Heyneke Meyer will be able to exclude the Springboks from the 2 June home derbys. With only the Cheetahs on a bye, the Lions will play the Sharks at home, and the Bulls will host the Stormers. Should the Sharks, who are not by any means in danger of relegation, be without the Springboks, it will be a disruption and it might give the Lions the edge, as they’ve had when they won the Currie Cup when no Springboks were around.

So, all is not lost yet. But it’s a long shot. So let’s assume for a moment that the Lions does not make, and gets relegated. Will it really be such a bad thing? Perhaps not…

Hear me out.

To start off with. out of principle I’m opposed to the Kings inclusion as they’ve done nothing to deserve inclusion. The Lions have at least won the Currie Cup. So just to lay the foundation that this is not a pro-King’s inclusion post.

Week in and week out we see our teams being grinding but the most physical Rugby Competition on the planet. The players are subjected to this 16 weeks, with 2 breaks anywhere inbetween those 16 weeks. Then they play Currie Cup, known as the toughest domestic competition in the world. Injuries take their toll (read Baylion’s post here) and player’s are pushed back onto the warfield before they are fully recovered, aggravating the injuries and then losing players longer term.

There is hardly any time for condition as top players get swooped up by the Springboks for the Rugby Championship, and then more players are taken on the Northern Hemisphere tour at the end of the year. A month after they return, training starts again for the Super Rugby competition, and 1 month later, they are back playing rugby.

Basically what it comes down to, is that there is no time for proper conditioning of players. They get injured, they have niggles, but they are pressed on because of the demanding schedule without proper R&R, and conditioning comes down to what you do for Christmas.

That is why our players prefer going to the UK and Japan. There is ample time for conditioning. The best example of all perhaps, Percy Montgomery. He went over a boy, came back a machine.

Perhaps, if the Lions and their sponsors can have some foresight, they can use this year “off” as an ideal opportunity to build their army. Use the time to analyse what’s gone wrong in the past, rather than patching things up as they try and keep up to the pace while their machine (the players/campaign) is falling apart. It’s rather telling when one of the most loyal and best players decide to leave the union, Doppies le Grange.

They can use this time to plan properly, take part in a less intense Currie Cup, win it again and use the time out from the Super Rugby to condition their players properly.

Personally, the more I think about it, the better I think it is becoming for the Lions. And I can imagine if I was a player, I would relish the opportunity to take a proper break from bruising games for 16 weeks and focus on my conditioning.

And then come 2014, the Lions will most likely be able to beat a depleted and injured Kings side, and be the best conditioned side in the competition.

Will the Lions see the opportunity they have, or are they gonna panic and all jump ship?

It’s up to them what they make of this.

“How to tackle this will determine if I go home with a full stomach, or kill myself”

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Filed under: Rugby, Superrugby, , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. Roly says:

    Makes sense. I think that SARU will go with the Cats but they are going to have expensive legal battles to fight first

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