Lions president Kevin de Klerk believes next week’s crunch meeting between the South African Rugby Union and franchise bosses would “draw a line in the sand” on the Super rugby participation saga.
In January the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings were guaranteed their place in the 2013 Super rugby tournament by unanimous decision at a general council meeting.
The Golden Lions Rugby Union was one of the 14 unions that voted for the Kings. But at the same meeting no solution was reached on a mechanism for the accommodation of the Kings.
With Sanzar having all but ruled out solving that problem by extending South Africa’s representation to six franchises, it is still unclear who would drop out.
“There is still a long way to go on this but it has to happen quickly because the confusion is affecting our supporters and the union in going about its business,” De Klerk said.
“I wouldn’t like to pre-empt anything but it will be an interesting meeting.”
De Klerk could not confirm if the franchises had an alternative solution to relegating the team that finishes fifth in the South African conference.
Yesterday Saru issued a statement that gave context to the increasing confusion: “The franchises requested that a decision on the mechanism of qualification was postponed to allow them time to make alternative proposals.
“The general council meeting accepted the request. Jurie Roux, Saru chief executive, asked for it to be recorded that the delay in a decision was at the franchises’ request.”
The Lions are currently last on the SA standings after eight losses in nine matches.
But Lions vice-president and investor Altmann Allers, who has bought a 49.9% stake in the GLRU, expects Thursday’s meeting to be crucial.
“It has never been stipulated or agreed that the team coming last will be the franchise to be relegated,” Allers said.
“How do you make rules two-thirds of the way through the competition? It’s unacceptable.”
Allers did concede that the Lions could be forced into an uncomfortable corner if they finish last.
“If the Kings’ entry into Super rugby is a done deal then the Lions will have to abide by the decision, but we want to be treated fairly if it is us to drop out,” Allers said.
Allers, speaking in his personal capacity, dismissed the idea of the Lions and Cheetahs combining to reform the Cats franchise, contradicting Lions coach John Mitchell, who said the only way either could win Super rugby was to combine.