What is happening? – The citizen
At a log low after losing all seven of their games and picking up just two points, it’s been an abysmal Currie Cup campaign so far for the Lions.
Their young squad of promising talent have been hammered home and away, with a devastating minus 214 points differential laying bare their struggles in the competition.
So far the Lions results have been 36-48 against Western Province, 9-50 against Pumas, 31-43 against Sharks, 14-66 against Cheetahs, 17-49 against Griquas, 10-40 against Bulls and 10 -45 against Pumas. .
While the Lions United Rugby Championship side are doing well in their first season in the flagship competition, it is worrying that the Currie Cup side who are supposed to be their feeder side are struggling so much.
A lack of depth in the URC squad has seen them very reluctant to release their squad members to the Currie Cup side and this lack of experience most likely plays a significant role in their struggles.
Here we list three big issues of what could go wrong with the Lions Currie Cup team.
Young people thrown into the deep end
Prior to the start of the Currie Cup, the Lions announced a full division of labour, with two different teams to compete in the URC and the Currie Cup. This meant the Lions Currie Cup squad would be filled with youngsters mainly from their 2021 U-20 competition winning squad, however, most of them had not made their senior debuts.
Although a handful of URC players, like EW Viljoen, Mannie Rass, Fred Zeilinga and Vincent Tshituka appeared on the side for a game here and there, the Lions stuck with the youngsters and they struggled desperately with no experience to fall back on to help them when things start to go wrong.
Players unable to climb the slope
Not all of the exciting young talent is able to move into senior rugby immediately after leaving school, with many needing to cut their teeth at junior and Varsity Cup level for a few years before moving up a gear.
The Lions, however, pushed a full squad of youngsters straight into the senior setup, with no experienced heads to guide them. URC Lions fullback Quan Horn (20) and flank Ruan Venter (19) are shining examples of how youngsters can settle into the senior fold, given the right experience around them. them, but the Currie Cup team unfortunately didn’t get that.
Inexperienced coaching setup
The Lions’ coaching setup for the Currie Cup saw their U-20 squad of head coach Mziwakhe Nkosi and assistants Phillip Lemmer, Wessel Roux and Wynand Ellis step into the breach.
Most of them had previously coached in senior Lions structures at assistant level, but none had been head coaches of a senior team. So, with Nkosi having to cut his teeth, it would have been hugely beneficial for him to have a broadly experienced team to guide, but that was not the case.
Instead, he had to try to groom his young charges from U-20 level for the massive move to senior level rugby and their struggles were there to see it all.