Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
11 Apr 2022
8:02 am

Lions’ Currie Cup woes — seven big defeats and no win: What’s going on?

Ross Roche

The young side have been hammered at home and away, with a devastating points differential of negative 214 laying bare their struggles in the competition.

The Lions have suffered a number of big defeats in the Currie Cup competition. Picture: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

Lying rock bottom of the log after losing all seven of their games and picking up just two points, it has been an abysmal Currie Cup campaign so far for the Lions.

Their young team of up and coming talents have been hammered at home and away, with a devastating points differential of negative 214 laying bare their struggles in the competition.

The Lions’ results so far have been 36-48 v Western Province, 9-50 v Pumas, 31-43 v Sharks, 14-66 v Cheetahs, 17-49 v Griquas, 10-40 v Bulls and 10-45 v Pumas.

With the Lions United Rugby Championship team faring well in their first season in the flagship competition, it is a worry that the Currie Cup team, which is meant to be their feeder side, is battling so much.

A lack of depth in the URC team has seen them very reluctant to release their squad members to the Currie Cup side and that absence of experience is most likely playing a big part in their struggles.

Here we list three big issues of what could be going wrong with the Lions Currie Cup team.

Youngsters thrown in the deep end

Before the Currie Cup started the Lions announced a complete split of duties, with two different squads to compete in the URC and Currie Cup. This meant the Lions Currie Cup squad would be filled with youngsters mainly from their successful 2021 U-20 competition winning team, however, most of them had not made a senior debut.

Despite a handful of URC players, like EW Viljoen, Mannie Rass, Fred Zeilinga and Vincent Tshituka having popped into the side for a game here and there, the Lions have stuck with the youngsters and they have struggled desperately with no experience to fall back on to help them when things start going wrong.

Players not able to make step up

Not every exciting young talent is able to make the step up to senior rugby immediately after leaving school, with many having to cut their teeth at junior and Varsity Cup level for a few years before moving up.

The Lions have, however, pushed a full squad of youngsters straight into the senior set-up, without any experienced heads to guide them. Lions URC fullback Quan Horn (20) and flank Ruan Venter (19) are shining examples of how youngsters can settle into the senior fold, if they have the right experience around them, but the Currie Cup team unfortunately hasn’t had that.

Inexperienced coaching set-up

The Lions coaching set-up for the Currie Cup saw their U-20 group of head coach Mziwakhe Nkosi, and assistants Phillip Lemmer, Wessel Roux and Wynand Ellis step into the breach.

Most of them had coached in the senior Lions structures at the assistant level before, but none has been head coach of a senior team. Thus with Nkosi needing to cut his teeth, it would have been massively beneficial for him to have had a largely experienced squad to guide, but it was not to be.

Instead he has had to try and ready his young charges from the U-20 level for the massive step up to senior level rugby and their struggles have been there for all to see.