Lions sack two more Kiwis
The Golden Lions Rugby Union have cut the final piece of the umbilical cord of their New Zealand 'babies'.
GLRU President Kevin de Klerk confirmed to this website on Thursday that they have not renewed the contracts backline coach Carlos Spencer and conditioning coach Wayne Taylor.
This development comes a week before their opening Currie Cup encounter, with the Cheetahs in Johannesburg next Saturday (August 11), and while the arbitration hearing of suspended head coach John Mitchell has been postponed till September 10.
De Klerk confirmed that the Lions' poor performance in this year's Super Rugby competition, where they finished last, was one of the contributing factors to the decision to say au revoir to the remainder of their Kiwi coaches.
Mitchell, Spencer and Taylor all joined the Lions ahead of the 2010 Currie Cup season.
They initially had some success – with the Lions going from fifth in 2010 to winning the 2011 Currie Cup season and avoid last place in the 2011 Super Rugby season.
However, their performance graph flatlined in 2012 and they again dropped to prop up the bottom of the standings in Super Rugby.
Mitchell was suspended over a series of complaints – from both the players and GLRU management – with his hearing starting last month. However, with the judge that chairs the hearing out of the country, the process was postponed till next month.
In the meantime the GLRU decided to start "fresh" with a new coaching panel.
Forwards coach Johan Ackermann, who was caretaker in the latter stages of the Super Rugby season, will continue in that role till the Mitchell process is completed and the Lions can appoint a full-time coaching panel.
De Klerk said the GLRU board, based on terms in the Kiwis' contracts, not to extend their stay in Johannesburg.
"There are several reasons, but mainly that we want to cut back in that area and look at a new coaching panel … which will include Johan Ackermann," De Klerk told this website, adding: "It certainly has to do with the results in Super Rugby."
He said they will sit down with Ackermann once the Mitchell saga is complete and make a call on the new coaching panel.
"Ackers [Ackermann] stood up well, as we expected," De Klerk said of the man likely to be the Lions' new head coach.
"In the meantime we will make use of the 'local' talent – very skilled people like Deon Davids.
"We have well-qualified and skilled people at the Lions."
De Klerk stressed that it was not an easy decision and said board of directors spoke about the matter "at length and in detail".
"We followed the correct procedures in every aspect of their contracts. It is never pleasant to deliver such news," he told this website.
"We have to make calls in the best interest of this company [the GLRU]."
Taylor and Spencer were informed via e-mail that their contracts had been terminated. They were paid two weeks' wages and offered flights back to New Zealand.
By Jan de Koning