The Lions 2013: a game of thrones



After finding themselves on the wrong end of SARFU backroom dealings, the Lions will not be participating in this year’s Super 15.    This weekend saw them taking on the less fancied Russian national team at Ellis Park as part of a completely rejigged schedule for 2013.   Johan Ackermann  and management have had to scramble to organise “decent” opponents to keep the squad sharp for the promotion-relegation layoffs later this year.

They have cobbled together a tournament of sorts now being referred to as “the Game of Thrones”.




Here are the fixtures and opponents as far as we can tell:




  • February 2, 2013:  Lions v Sweet Valley Primary School under 13B rugby team (“C” team not available that weekend)
  • February 15, 2013: Lions v Meadowridge Baptist Youth Group (game moved to Friday to accommodate “lift” arrangements with parents)
  • March 8, 2013:  Lions v USA invitational (away game).
  • March 15, 2013:  Lions v North America invitational (away game)
  • April 13, 2013: Lions v car guards at Shoprite-Checkers (match to be played under “Southern Suburbs rules”)
  • April 20, 2013: Lions v Peoples Republic of Korea followed by Lions v Peoples Republic of Hout Bay (a despot double header!)
  • April 27, 2013: Lions v Wales.


Shooo… if you’re a season ticket holder best sell them now, before your potential buyers get a look at this fixture list.


Lions (rugby union)

Lions (rugby union) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Super 15 preview: SA conference

It’s that time of the year again.  Time to start skipping varsity lectures, updating your Superbru during work hours, and generally losing every bet you can because of your unreasonable faith in South African teams somehow being able to “pull of a surprise playing in Christchurch”.


Coach: Super Rugby’s cuddliest coach, Allister Coetzee, has a lot to prove after being passed over for the Bok coach.  His biggest problem?  A trophy cabinet as empty and hollow as the latest Maroon Five album.  If the cuddle monster can’t win trophy’s he won’t be putting on that Bok coaching jersey any time soon.

Captain: The man. The legend.  Terror of all you can eat buffet bars everywhere. Schalk Burger. Beautiful freak.

Man to watch: Andries Bekker. An 8 foot tall freak of a man, capable of two carrying basket balls in one hand (try that) while simultaneously running like a winger and calling in his stock market trades from his Bluetooth headset.  New Zealanders are in awe of him, girls love him, and fashionistas everywhere are horrified by his mullet.  With Big Vic finally leaving the Bok scene, this is Bekker’s year to shine.

Summary: Every year it is the same old story.  The Stormers look good in pre-season.  The local Cape Times and Argus report that Habana is “back to his best form” in the training facilities.  Unfortunately by that they mean his table tennis skills because they can’t possibly be referring to his rugby form can they?  Round about midway through the season the Stormers put on a display of rugby that is everything you ever want in a team.  They whip the Blues 65 to 0 in New Zealand.  People start fantasizing about a Newlands final.  Then they cock it up somehow when it really matters.  Everybody gets wasted at that really disgusting bar in the Grand Stand.  Don’t put me through that again, I just don’t think I can handle it.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune:  Your Own Worst Enemy.


Coach: Frans Ludeke. What a career plan, follow on the coat tails of Heyneke Meyer.  Don’t change anything. Use the structures and players your predecessor put in place. Watch the trophies come rolling in.

Captain: Pierre Spies.  Underwear model.  Former hurdles champion.  The man your girlfriend really wants to have sex with when she pretends she’s into you.  But he hasn’t actually done anything remotely resembling a rugby play in the last 3 years.  But he does look good in a tight shirt. So there’s that.

Man to watch: Johann Sadie.  As is usually the case with players who transfer to the Bulls something about the setup brings out the best in them.  This promising backline player will be sorely missed by the Stormers.  Especially when they check Jean de Villiers ID document and discover that Jean is actually 82 years old.

Summary:  There’s one slight problem with Ludeke’s grand plan of not changing anything that Heyneke Meyer put in place, including allowing Victor Matfield to coach himself and be in charge of his own disciplinary hearings.  Eventually people get old and leave.  Then you’re royally screwed.  The Bulls starting line up this weekend is missing a host of the regulars.  No Bakkies, Du Preez or Matfield.   It doesn’t bode well for the season ahead.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: Wages of Sin.  You just know big ol’ Vic gave them a talking to about getting right with the Right.


Coach: Naka Drotske has been honing his Tony Soprano impersonation all summer long.  A grizzled veteran with a face straight out of New Jersey and a trophy cabinet as empty as ….

Captain: Adrian Strauss– has more syllables in his name than caps…experience isn’t everything, is it?

Man to watch: Heinrich  Brussouw.  Big Daddy Rugby’s personal hero.  The Lobster Boy is everything you want in a loose forward. Intelligent, scrappy with an unbelievable ability to sneak turnovers out of nowhere.  If you were stuck in a Shawshank Redemption prison and badly needed a nail file, a box of playing cards and two nylon guitar strings for your escape, Heinrich “Scrounger” Brussouw would be your man.

Summary: The Cheetah’s are well and truly screwed this year as they are every year.  They are a talent farm for the rest of the country with the Sharks in particular waving big coastal money in the bright eyes of promising farm boys while Cheetah’s talent scouts look on helplessly.  They can’t retain the depth needed to be an effective team, so despite the flashiness of the odd upset, they are on their way out.  They’re not politically connected enough either to keep themselves from being replaced by the Kings next season.  Enjoy it while it lasts fellows.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: I’m Goin’ Down


Coach: John Plumtree.  What is up with those ears John?  I can’t stop staring at them.

Captain: Keegan Daniel.  I got nothing here.  There’s not much to say about a captain who allows his coach to recruit Marius Joubert.   Marius Joubert.  Wasn’t he in his glory days before they invented the internet?

Player to watch:  Pat Lambie.  The man most rugby fans south of Pretoria want to dislodge Morne Steyn from the Green and Gold number 10 jersey.  If only he didn’t look like he just got done playing soccer for the Sweet Valley under 10s.  Maybe it’s the band-aid on his knee, or the fluffy do on his head.  He doesn’t exactly instil fear with his looks.  But he’s the closest thing South Africa have had to a complete flyhalf since the days I hacked by my Playstation and built that fake player on EA Sports Rugby.

Summary: The team known more for its cheerleaders and its slavish devotion to John Smit than for its trophy winning ability will again put out the best squad this year out of the Saffer franchises.  Oh, you meant the rugby team not the cheerleaders?  In that case, don’t get your hopes up just yet.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: My Best Was Never Good Enough.  (That one’s for you Bismarck.)


Coach: John Mitchell.  He is scary enough that you’d probably want to play your best so that he doesn’t give you “that look” in the dressing room after the game.

Captain: Josh Strauss.  Will he? Won’t he?  Shave his beard?  Release a new four track indie-folk record?  Lions management must love having this hippie folk rocker on their payroll.  He is Google gold-dust.

Player to watch: Elton Jantjies.  Webster himself.  Mini Carlos Spencer.  Except he can kick.

Summary:  For some reason it takes years between a South African rugby team winning the Currie Cup and becoming a decent Super Rugby team.  I’ve never quite figured that out.  Like the Cheetahs, depth is a problem.  It’s all very well winning domestic trophies while the Boks are away, but you get exposed at Super Rugby level if you don’t have enough quality players to call on.  Luckily for Lions there is far too much money sloshing around Ellis Park for them to ever be allowed to be relegated.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: Don’t Look Back.  (Best sung as you’re bulletting straight out of Ellis Park.  Whatever you do.  Don’t. Look. Back.)

The cuddle monster wants a trophy so bad he can almost taste it.

Lions fans can rub it in

Elton Jantjies brought down the house at the Four Ways mall Eagle Falls Spur restaurant after the Lions won the Currie Cup

Lions fans countrywide will be packing their middle finger for work on Monday after they smashed the Sharks to take home the Currie Cup.  In winning in emphatic fashion they have overcome all the criticism and cheap shots directed at them this season.

There were many who said the absence of the Boks during the World Cup favoured the Lions and for a while it looked like the early Springbok exit of the World Cup would be bad news for their supporters, but the Lions silenced their critics by putting away to teams laden with Boks in both the semi-finals and the final.

The Lions have had a shocking decade.  For a team that plays in the financial heart of South Africa, you’d expect them to be put out a team that conquers everything in front of it, New York Yankees style.  Sadly, instead, long-suffering Lions fans have been tortured with poor coaching, poor management and poor squads.

So seeing Elton Jantjies flaying the Sharks on Saturday evening must be sweet comfort to Lions supporters.  Elton was written off by many early in the season who tend to forget the basic rule of talent: that it needs to be nurtured with some experience. Jantjies looked the genuine article on Saturday getting his backs away and slotting his kicks – even with the disturbing spectre of having Hugh Bladen refer to him as a “boy” during the broadcast.  Clearly Hugh never took lessons on class and taste in the new South Africa. Elton looked on form and the future of Bok rugby looks good when you consider that we have Lambo, Jantjies and Steyn with years left in them all pushing for the Bok flyhalf spot.

Rumour has it, Elton was seen celebrating at the Eagle Falls Spur restaurant until all hours of the night.

Well done Lions fans, bring your coffee mugs, smug grins and your middle fingers to work and show them proudly all week. You deserve it.

Midseason wrap – Newlands loss was the canary in the coal mine for SA teams

Well that’s it folks. You can plan to have your wedding on June 9 now, because the weekend of the Super 15 final sure as heck ain’t going to be a weekend to celebrate South African rugby. The Stormers’ loss this weekend is the early signal that the trophy cabinets will be empty this year.

The format of the competition gives South Africa one freebie in the post-season. By virtue of the conference system one South African team has to go through. And that will be about it. It doesn’t look likely that any South African team will be good enough to earn a home advantage for the business end of the post-season. And that will kill you.

Here’s why it will be a trophy-less Super 15 for the teams from the Republic:

Lions and Cheetahs: both teams used to be part of the old Cats franchise. And they still play like it. Despite promising starts to the season, they let you down each week with atrocious defence and an inability to grind out close games. Clearly both teams have been implementing Dick Muir’s patented “Red Sea” defence. Here’s a clue: when Kobus Wiese introduces your team as likely to be involved in an exciting match because they are “great on attack” you know it’s just a euphemism for having crap defence. Next to that defence, anything looks “great”.

Bulls: Heyneke’s influence is over and the structures he put in place are no longer supporting the new management team. When your play is based on the simple premise of stuffing up everyone up front and grinding them into the dirt it’s hard to win when your squad is made up retired bridge players and little old ladies from the church fund-raiser. This team is old, old, old.

Sharks: A win over the ship going down known as the Brumbies doesn’t save the Sharkies I am afraid. A poor overseas tour left them with a lot of hard work to do and this isn’t the same Sharks squad of a few years ago that could pull the late season comeback off. There’s no young John Smit charging up the middle of the park and no Francois Steyn banging over drop goals from the parking lot of the Shoprite-Checkers outside Kings Park stadium.

Stormers: Despite whatever Kool-Aid other SA rugby outlets were drinking, the Stormers were the best bet to bring home the title for South Africa. However, this weekend’s loss against the Crusaders exposes a cruel truth. They just don’t have a pack capable of domination. Yes, having the flash of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie will get you through the mid-table games against the Aussies, but if you want to compete against the Blues and the Crusaders you need to have some serious uglies in your front row. The Stormers have hookers, but their props are more interested in looking flash in the backline then they are in doing the hard work. Here’s a clue that you have a totally shit front row: Supersport commentators glow about how much work your props get done “around the paddock”. In other words, they aren’t scumming or mauling – they’re just looking pretty hanging out on the wing.

That’s all folks. Your June 9 weekend should open up for a round of 18 or that wedding you need to go to.

The Stormer's loss against the Crusaders signals a doomed Super 15 for SA teams.

Big Daddy readers – by the numbers

One of the advantages of using WordPress as your blogging software is that it provides some nifty statistics on the visitors to your site.  As a visitor of our site, we thought it would be interesting to see the illustrious company you are keeping when it comes to your surfing habits.

Besides  – we thought we’d do the WikiLeaks thing and share our secrets with our user base in protest against the government’s proposed Protection of Information Act.

Knock yourself out folks:

WikiLeaks reveals how the Lions lost on Friday

WikiLeaks released a tape of John Mitchell’s half-time talk to the Lions on Friday – it explains a lot.  If like me, you were wondering how the Lion’s hosed a lead of 25-17 at the break against the Blues, it goes something like this:

“Right lads.  Good showing, 25-17 up, we can bank that.  There is just no way a Kiwi team is coming back from 8 points down. Believe me, I should know.

I’d say, fair enough, it’s time to rest on our laurels. I know we haven’t won a game yet this season, but it’s safe to say that this one is in the bag.

Elton?  You listening?  It’s going to be a long season, and we don’t need any big injuries.  Take the foot off the gas boys, we’re in for a long ride, no point in spending all our energy once we’ve taken the lead.

Oh… and remember, you don’t need bonus points from penalties. That stuff is for the Stormers.  If you’re less than 3 points behind and are given a shot goal bang in front of the posts, I want you to kick for the corner and set up the rolling maul.  No worries that you’ve been smashed backwards at every tackle. Taking kicks instead of tries is for wussies.

One more thing, damn, I love that we took Dick Muir’s advice and did away with defensive coaching.  As long as we have Strauss’ beard in this squad, there will be no defensive drills.”

It all makes sense now… no other explanation could given how the Lions butchered this one.

Signs of hope for the Lions

Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies indicates how many crucial kicks at goal he missed.

The Lions lost narrowly to the Bulls on Saturday, going down 24-20 but they showed enough promise to give hope to the long-suffering Lions’ fans that this season might just be different.

They started too slowly and Webster Elton Jantjies missed too many crucial kicks at goal, but they completely outplayed the Bulls in the second half after being down 24-5 at the break.  Elton ‘Webster’ Jantjies can’t be blamed for the loss, as although he missed several vital shots at goal, he was also the spark that ignited their backline.

It was a far cry from the days of Jorrie Muller’s chip and chase – this Lions backline looked electric with the ball in hand. Webster delivered crisp flat passes that his backs were able to take at speed and with space to move. The Kiwi influence, from Mitchell to Spencer was evident in the Lions’ play, especially in the speed and threat of the latest Kiwi import, James Kamana.

It will be disappointing for the Lions to start off the season with a loss, especially in a match where they played so well. But there is a lot to take heart from here. With the change in the fixture list this season meaning that South African teams will play more games in the Republic than previously, the Lions can certainly target mid-table or higher this season.

Now if only Webster can rediscover his kicking form.