In a two-horse race, which is essentially what a final boils down to, it is axiomatic that both contestants are in with a fighting chance.
In the wet and windy New Zealand capital, Wellington, a group of South Africans – all but written off by their own rugby authorities a scant three years ago when they were excluded from playing Super Rugby – run out against the Hurricanes at the Westpac Stadium, at the southern tip of North Island tomorrow morning.
The Lions have certainly shown their fight in this season’s expanded campaign, forging their way past two New Zealand sides in the play-offs to make the final and, in an adventurous, yet determined, manner, done much to shake off the shackles of recent history in the process.
A far more important chapter of Super Rugby awaits, for while the Bulls have managed to capture the Super Rugby crown three times, no other South African side has matched the men from Loftus Versfeld and none of our franchises have been able to win a final away from home.
But the Lions have shaken the cynics this season and been content to provide graphic proof that the underdog tag they have carried since the start of the campaign was an ill-considered misnomer.
While the Lions will again carry the underdog label into tomorrow’s final fling of the dice in what former Springbok coach Jake White has referred to as the toughest provincial competition in the world, there can be no doubt that they will be more than willing to carry the game to the Hurricanes, a side liberally sprinkled with Test-hardened All Blacks.
Springing from a domestic aura riven by rugby rivalries, the Lions have risen above expectations and consigned early predictions and the weight of history to be flawed. The Lions deserve no less than the support of us all.