Super Rugby bosses face difficult choices, says coach

CONFIDENT NOW: Lions coach Johan Ackermann is not so glum about the Super Rugby season any more Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Lions coach Johan Ackermann 
Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Lions head coach Johan Ackermann would love to keep all the teams in Super Rugby next year, but acknowledged there was a lot of negativity around the current 18-team format.

Ackermann was talking after his team beat the Southern Kings, who have been singled out as one of the teams who could face the cut if the competition is reduced.

It was the Kings’ fourth defeat in five games and has left them, like Australia’s Melbourne Rebels and Western Force, vulnerable to any culling.

“The board members up there will decide that and what is best for the competition,” Ackermann said.

“I suppose it is going to be a debate and if you are for the Kings and SA Rugby you will probably want to keep everybody to develop players and to give another franchise and another region something to support.

“They have to look at the module of travelling, finance and a lot of factors.

“But if it does not make business sense, and it is not bringing a lot spectators or whatever, then it is a tough challenge.

“I personally would have loved to keep everybody, but I know that there is a lot of negativity around the competition currently and the travelling.

“So, for me, I am just privileged to be part of a Super Rugby campaign.

“It is going to be tough and it does not matter whether it is one, two or three sides.

“Just mention names like Rebels and Force and somebody is going to be unhappy if they change the formula.

“It is going to be at the cost of somebody.

“I can’t say what is the right or wrong decision because there are so many factors when it comes to sponsorship and the money involved.

“If you look at [Saturday’s] game here, there is a lot of talent in the Kings side and all the franchise sides.

“So somebody it going to lose out,” Ackermann said.

The Lions coach said he was grateful for the 42-19 bonuspoint win over the Kings.

“One can’t take anything for granted because the Kings are getting better and better. They have quality players all over and we were always nervous.

“We did not have a good week of preparation. There was a stomach bug going through the team so we had to cancel Thursday’s practice.

“Some of the guys only started to feel better on Friday and we did not want to underestimate the Kings and they started well with that charge down.

“So it was great fight back by our guys and some great rugby in the first half.

“But the second half was disappointing. We lost our intensity and focus, and there were handling errors and bad decision making.

“So there are a lot of things to work on. But in hindsight it was the perfect result if you get the bonus point and there is a lot to work on.

“If you walked away here with a bigger margin of victory maybe you would take it for granted that things would just happen.

“If we had played like that against a New Zealand side we would probably have got punished. It shows you we have to lift our game,” Ackermann said.

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