Lions hold out hope to still play crucial Super Rugby Unlocked match against Pumas
Though SA Rugby have indicated that their match against the Pumas has been cancelled‚ the Lions are still holding out hope they can come to grips with the team from Mpumalanga in Super Rugby Unlocked.
Should the pandemic-driven cancellation of their match remain‚ it will leave the Lions with a mountain to climb in the Currie Cup.
The tournament starts next week as points are carried over from Super Rugby Unlocked to the single-round Currie Cup.
The Lions' cancelled match against the Pumas‚ as well as their earlier one against the Cheetahs‚ will leave them at a huge disadvantage in the Currie Cup.
Those were home games they would have eyed to win after their away defeats at the start of the campaign against the Sharks and the Stormers.
Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli will still motivate for the match against the Pumas to be played though the decision rests with SA Rugby.
“If Jurie [Roux‚ SA Rugby's CEO] decides the game can still be played‚ it can be. They sent out a press release based on information they have. The same with the Sharks and Stormers game‚ it's nobody's fault.
“Even though it says cancelled‚ you want credibility in the competition. If the two teams can't arrive at an agreeable date‚ the leadership of SA Rugby can call that game.”
Straeuli said the situation is fluid and that things can change from week to week.
“Is a player's life in danger? Is the commercial model in danger? That's what you have to assess.
“We are all concerned about player welfare‚ from the national coach all the way down.
“We want to play every game. If it means we play on a Tuesday or Wednesday we will play.”
The Lions will be desperate to play the game against the Pumas as they have much ground to make up.
Apart from those defeats in Durban and Cape Town‚ they lost to the Bulls at Ellis Park.
They now look likely to finish the competition in fifth place‚ above the Pumas and Griquas who prop up the bottom of the points table.
They will have 12 log points from their six matches recording just one win‚ losing three and 'drawing' two by virtue of two cancelled matches.
With just 12 log points and the Bulls‚ if their match against the Pumas this weekend goes ahead‚ likely to finish the competition on 23 or 24 points‚ the Lions will have very little prospect of wiping out that deficit in the single round Currie Cup.
The Stormers‚ Sharks and Cheetahs will also be aggrieved that cancellations have limited their chances to close the gap on the Bulls whose progress have been uninterrupted apart from a thunderstorm that drove them off the field prematurely in their defeat of the Stormers.
Some will argue the cancellations have brought the integrity of the competition‚ in fact both competitions‚ into question.
Straeuli conceded, however: “We are dealing with unusual circumstances.”