The mighty lions of Jobburg have lost their roar.
And it doesn’t look like they’re going to get it back anytime soon.
They have struggled in the Currie Cup (4th overall in 2020 and 7th in 2021) and the United Rugby Championship (currently 14th out of 16 teams) over the past two years and will need some sort of miracle to turn things around .
Their main problem, however, is that they are going up against some of the best teams in Europe with a mix-and-match side, with few real stars, while their South African countries are full of internationals.
Losing players on a regular basis has been a major problem for the Lions over the years, and while they aren’t the only South African franchise to suffer major losses to the cash-rich clubs of Europe and Japan, they seem to be hit harder than others. outfits.
The latest major player to announce his departure is center Burger Odendaal, a former junior star and captain of Bulls, who will be moving to Wasps in England later this year.
Odendaal is another veteran campaigner to leave Joburg, like so many others before him, as the Lions were so prominent in Super Rugby in 2016, 2017 and 2018 when they played in three consecutive finals.
The list of players who have retired from Ellis Park in the past five years is a who’s who of recent Lions rugby:
Props: Jacques van Rooyen, Dylan Smith
whores: Akker van der Merwe, Robbie Coetzee, Malcolm Marx
Locks: Lourens Erasmus, Marvin Orie, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Stephan Lewies
Loose Forward: Cyle Brink, Ruan Ackermann, Kwagga Smith, Marnus Schoeman, James Venter
Scrum halves: Faf de Klerk, Nic Groom, Dillon Smit
Flight halves: Elton Jantjies, Jaco van der Walt, Marnitz Boshoff, Shaun Reynolds
Centers: Rohan Janse v Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Howard Mnisic
Wings: Courtnall Skosan, Ruan Combrinck, Madosh Tambwe
fullbacks: Andries Coetzee, Tyrone Green
There are several other players not listed here who have also looked for greener pastures.
Individuals including Warren Whiteley (injury), Julian Redinghuys (injury), Warwick Tecklenburg (retirement) and Ross Cronje (retirement) lost to the team, while several veteran coaches including Johan Ackermann, Swys de Bruin, JP Ferreira and Joey Mongalo also moved elsewhere.
In recent times, dead men like Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer have returned to Joburg, while veteran prop Jannie du Plessis has also teamed up with the Joburg side.
And while there are several emerging young players showing promise in the Lions lineup, the squad lacks quality depth and hardened campaigners who have played Test rugby. There is not one current Bok in the squad.
The big question now is, who will be next to leave Ellis Park? Up-and-coming center Wandisile Simelane has been hinting at a move for some time now and brothers Tshituka, Vincent and Emmanual, will be in high demand, as will Carlu Sadie, Francke Horn and Jordan Hendrikse.
The Lions, with just two wins from seven games in the URC, will face Leinster on Friday in Dublin.