- SA’s hopes of playing in lucrative European competitions next season have been given a boost by a positive comment from Lions chief Rudolf Straeuli.
- Responding to a query on this season’s fixture lull, the former Bok mentor said that such a situation won’t happen again as local teams are slated to play in the Champions or Challenge Cup from next season.
- The Lions admit that the prospect of the Currie Cup being played concurrently with the URC will place pressure on player resources.
Lions chief Rudolf Straeuli intimated that South Africa’s franchises in the United Rugby Championship (URC) could reach the proverbial Promised Land of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup from next year.
Responding to a query over whether the men from Ellis Park feel a bit frustrated by the stop-start nature to the campaign to date – local teams play just two rounds over the next fortnight before breaking again until February – the former Springbok coach suggested such a lull in the schedule won’t occur again in future.
“Obviously, Ivan van Rooyen is heading up the URC and European Professional Club Rugby squads (EPCR), which we did not play in this year. In the next cycle of rugby we will be playing in the EPCR,” he said.
“This period of pre-season won’t be there come this time next year, so this is the last time we will have a two-or-three-week break.”
South Africa’s participation in the respective leagues, which essentially amounts to the rugby equivalent of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, has been a hot topic of speculation ever since the URC was launched earlier this year.
There was even talk of the Rainbow Cup being used as a mechanism for qualification this season.
SA Rugby hasn’t made any official announcement on the matter for months, but Straeuli’s comments certainly suggests there’s meaningful movement.
Meanwhile, the Lions and their counterparts will have to keep themselves busy in the Currie Cup before resuming their URC responsibilities, with the hallowed domestic tournament now slated to start in January.
That decision, however, still needs to be ratified at SA Rugby’s general council meeting on 10 December.
“There are talks about the Currie Cup now starting in January, but we haven’t seen a fixture list yet and then also junior rugby. Mziwakhe Nkosi will head up our Currie Cup and junior rugby but we will have different coaches available to assist with the junior games,” said Straeuli.
That squeeze on resources will extend to the playing side as well, particularly given that the Lions have to forgo their Pumas loanees from next month.
“It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Lions take on Cardiff Blues in Doornfontein on Sunday.
Kick-off is at 16:00.
Source by www.news24.com