Lions reveal head coaches for URC & Currie Cup
INTERVIEW: The Lions are currently running two squads – one focusing on the United Rugby Championship and one geared towards the Currie Cup early next year.
Lions Chief Executive Rudolf Straeuli and coach Ivan van Rooyen fronted up to the media in the build-up to the resumption of the URC – when the Lions host Cardiff at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Straeuli said they are up for the challenge of focusing on a number of competitions running at the same time.
Apart from having teams in the URC and the Currie Cup, there is also a national Under-20 competition planned for next year.
“Ivan van Rooyen is heading up the URC and EPRC [European Professional Club Rugby] squads, which we do not play in this cycle,” Straeuli said of the 2021/22 European Cup.
“In the next cycle we [South African team] will be playing in the EPCR – if they qualify,” the CEO added.
“This period of a mid-season break won’t be there come this time next year, so this is the last time in December where we will have a two-or-three-week break,” he said of the four-week that follows when the European-based URC teams compete in the European Cup.
Straeuli also confirmed that Mziwakhe Nkosi – the attack and backs coach for junior teams – will be heading up the Currie Cup campaign.
South Africa’s premier domestic competition will start in mid-January and run concurrently with the URC.
Like all four franchises, they will be splitting their resources between the URC and the Currie Cup.
“We are focusing on two different squads at the moment, Straeuli said, adding: “It will be a challenge to play in different competitions
“SA Rugby has not rubber-stamped the fixtures yet, but we should have that at our next meeting in December,” he said about the Currie Cup, scheduled to start in January.
“Mziwakhe will be in charge of the Currie Cup and junior rugby, but he will have different coaches available to assist with the junior games.
“He will also take charge of all the development competitions and once the calendar is rubber-stamped, it will be quite a year ahead.”
The Lions, coming off a four-week break after their tour of Europe, is not concerned about the stop-start nature of the season.
Van Rooyen described it as “the future of rugby” – where the number of games will increase and the pre-season time will decrease.
“The format going forward will be where we play two, three or four games, then have a week or two off,” the Lions coach said.
He added that he doubts they will have too many four-week mid-season breaks, as they just did.
“With the limited time we had after the  Currie Cup and then going straight into a month-long tour, we saw this as a pre-season.
“We had an intense, tough three-week training regime. After the Cardiff [this week] and Munster [next week] games, we have 10 training sessions before we go on our Christmas break.
“After that, we have four training sessions before we play Leinster [in Dublin on January 7].”
They have broken up their preparation into three blocks – before the start of the tournament, then the four-week mid-season break and the 12 sessions before and after Christmas ahead of the Leinster game.
Thereafter they will play the bulk of the remaining fixtures in one ongoing block.
Van Rooyen said they used the ‘additional time’ to work on individual skills and their systems.
— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) November 24, 2021