Golden Lions Rugby Union president Kevin de Klerk says he remains optimistic over the Lions participation in Super Rugby next season
De Klerk was speaking ahead of a meeting between franchise representatives and members of the SA Rugby Union executive committee in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“We remain bullish and we remain optimistic,” said De Klerk.
“The methodology still has to be discussed on how this is going to happen and I suppose that will take place at this forum.”
Saru’s exco proposed at a special general meeting in January that the top four teams in the South African conference in this year’s Super Rugby competition would join the Southern Kings in next year’s competition.
At this late stage of the Super Rugby competition the Lions are languishing last on the overall table and are lagging 13 points behind the Cheetahs in the South African conference.
The Lions are thus the likely candidate to be relegated at the end of the season, if the above proposal is ratified at the next general meeting on July 13 in Cape Town.
“The word ‘proposal’ is the operative word and it all still has got to be ratified and decided upon,” said De Klerk.
“We are expecting the right outcome in terms of the Lions still remaining in the competition.”
Saru revealed that it had also been proposed that the last-placed team in the South African conference would play a promotion/relegation match against the non-Super Rugby franchise after the 2013 and 2014 season.
“Depending on many factors we at the Lions are obviously not experiencing the best season, but an exit from this system would have quite a severe impact on not only us, but any other union that left the system,” he said.
De Klerk said a decision to relegate any of the current South African franchises would have a massive knock-on effect.
“It affects your sponsorships, your suite holders, your season ticket holders and your spectators,” said De Klerk.
“We have player contracts and sponsorship contracts until the end of 2013. I mean, how do we work around this?”
De Klerk added it was a matter of urgency that a solution was found to this conundrum. He, however, believed that all parties would be “willing and able, and have the integrity to arrive at an amicable outcome”.
“This thing needs to be decided really quickly, but I think we still have a way to go to find the right solution,” he said.
“I think at the end of the day its everybody’s concern that rugby decisions must be made in the best interest of rugby.”