Columnists 26.2.2018 04:07 pm

Lions blackout is baffling and deeply unfair too

Lions coach Swys de Bruin and captain Warren Whiteley. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Lions coach Swys de Bruin and captain Warren Whiteley. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The darlings of South African rugby have inexplicably gone laager mentality before Saturday’s derby against the Bulls.

If you’re hoping to hear what the Lions have to say about their mouthwatering Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Loftus this weekend, don’t bother.

South Africa’s leading side in Super Rugby have decided this game doesn’t warrant any coverage from their side.

As a result, the Lions haven’t planned any media activities this week.

* Only after this article was published did the Lions send out a statement saying that coach Swys de Bruin would be available for interviews.

But there was no mention of that at any time before that.

Now this laager mentality is hardly a rare phenomenon in South African rugby.

There are numerous instances where local teams have crept into their shells because they keep on losing (and invariably keep playing badly).

It’s in some instances a matter of self-preservation, even if it does come across as a bit cowardly.

But you’ve got to hand it to the Lions: they’re the first team in my career as a sports journalist to have gone laager while they’re WINNING!

It’s actually an absurd thought.

Even more baffling is the official reasons given by team management for the Lions’ decision to go underground.

Reason one: “It’s not a home game”

So, the local rugby community – as stakeholders in the team –  shouldn’t know what’s going on because this weekend’s game is being played at Loftus?

If any Lions fan is that petty and backward then the side don’t deserve them.

Of course, we know, that’s not the case…

Reason two: “Launching (T)est tickets”

Yes, Ellis Park is hosting the first Test between the Springboks and England on June 9.

What on earth does that have to do with the Lions team?

Reason three: “SA Rugby announcement this week”

Saru and AB InBev – the company who took over SABMiller late in 2016 – are announcing a partnership on Wednesday.

Again, what on earth does that have to do with the Lions?

And here’s the kicker.

Lions management cited all those reasons and then added that they are “dominating the news”.

If we’re going to apply that logic we might as well stop writing about rugby because Proteas veteran Morne Morkel announced his international retirement on Monday afternoon (which isn’t even immediate).

We – the sport media – will be okay.

There are other stories we can fill our pages with.

But I’m not sure if the fans deserve such treatment.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

*This article was updated with new information.

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