Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
27 Apr 2022
1:21 pm

Out of playoff contention, Lions shift focus to next URC season

Ross Roche

"For two years the Lions only faced local opposition so to pack down against European teams was a big learning experience."

The Lions have shifted their focus to the future having missed out on the URC playoffs in their first season. Picture: Gallo Images

The Lions are now starting to look at the bigger picture as they prepare to face Benetton in their second last match of this season’s United Rugby Championship at Ellis Park on Saturday.

With qualification for the competition knock-outs firmly out the window, the Lions have one last home match against Benetton before facing the Dragons away to end off their debut season in the competition.

Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys explained that the team was now focused on implementing a system that they can build on and take forward into the next URC season.

“We just want to improve. We have learnt so much this season. So it is important for us to stick to the processes and improve. We don’t want to be too results focused, but everyone knows rugby is more lekker when you’re winning,” said Redelinghuys.

“So for now we are focusing on things we would like to improve on in the long term. We are now looking at some of our long term goals, because we can’t make the play-offs. So we are looking to implement things that we want to build on in the future.”

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The Lions scrum, which has been a massive weapon for them during their first season in the URC, has at times found itself nullified on the odd occasion against overseas teams, although sometimes not by legal methods.

Redelinghuys, however, believes that the Lions pack has taken plenty of lessons out of the campaign so far and that it will bode well for their future.

“It has been a great learning curve for us this season. We have seen so many different pictures. If you think back over the past few years we have only played the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks over and over, where we’ve seen similar pictures the whole time,” said Redelinghuys.

“But now we have scrummed against 15 different packs, which has given us so many different pictures. So there is a long list of things we have learnt which is great for the guys.

“One of the big things we have learnt is how the overseas teams come with little tricks to nullify your scrum which they do really well. Whereas in South Africa it’s usually just two packs going flat out every scrum.”