Australia's saga a cautionary tale for South Africa

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Lions coach Johan Ackermann has warned South Africa would be far from immune to the battle Australia is facing as it decides which Super Rugby team to cull.

South Africa will have to cut two teams to take Super Rugby back to 15 teams in 2018, with the most commonly mooted teams being the Kings and Cheetahs, though their process has been different to Australia's. 

SA Rugby brought its teams’ executives together to vote on criteria upon which the franchises would be judged, with a timeline set for the end of June to make a call.

In the meantime, they’ve been watching on as the ARU braces for legal battles on multiple fronts, as the Force and Rebels try to paint the governing body into a corner.

Ackermann, speaking after his side’s win over the Brumbies, said he didn’t expect South Africa’s teams to take news of their axing easily either.

“I doubt they will go by falling over, everyone’s going to fight,” he said.

“South African rugby had a criteria set up and the guys agreed on criteria starts with finance, stadium, inside the stadium, spectators.

“What the criteria is I’m not sure but the teams will be judged on that criteria. Then again, will those teams just accept it? I don’t know.”

The Lions finished a perfect Australian tour, with a 13-6 win over the Brumbies on Friday night after wins over the Rebels and the Force in recent weeks.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said his team was ‘embarrassed’ after yet another close miss, their sixth defeat by less than a converted try this year.

It’s a stat that has them on top of the Aussie conference but still winless against overseas opposition, with five regular rounds left.

“It’s something we’re obviously embarrassed and disappointed with,” Larkham said.

The Lions kept the Brumbies at bay. Photo: Getty Images“They’re a quality outfit and I thought our boys defended tremendously well, barring one turnover where they went 80 metres to score from.

“We see in all these games that we’ve lost, we’re coming up against good opposition, they’re putting us under a bit of pressure and we’re not getting it quite right.”

The Brumbies took control in the opening half but couldn’t turn that pressure into points, something Larkham admitted had to change.

“I think there was some really good linebreaks, some guys creating some nice stuff and it just comes back to our ball carrier doing some better stuff there, recycling the ball and our support players getting there a little bit quicker,” he said.

“In terms of confidence, the guys are throwing the ball around. They’re trying desperately to score tries but it didn’t come tonight.”

The Brumbies head to Port Elizabeth on Monday, ahead of a round-the-world tour to play the Kings and the Jaguares.