Van Rooyen on Lions' resurgence: 'We are focusing on rugby'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lions’ back-to-back United Rugby Championship victories could be the sign of a resurgence after their internal drama.
Since reports of a disconnect between players and coaches two weeks ago were made public, it appeared that the off-field drama would spell the end of the Lions’ playoff hopes in the URC.
However, it seems like the public fallout instigated a much-needed turning point.
In the last two weeks they have beaten Glasgow Warriors (35-24) and against all odds secured a 29-25 win over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The win saw the Lions move to the 11th sport on the overall URC log with 33 points.
They are just six points adrift of eight-placed Connacht and face Benneton (away), Leinster (home) and Zebre (home) in their last three round-robin matches.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) March 4, 2023
“The last two weeks did the talking [in regards to internal saga], we are focussing on rugby and what happens in between the four lines because that’s something we can control,” Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen told reporters after the match.
“Hats off to the players that stood up and fight like they did the past few weeks.
“I was speaking to someone and I think our last win [at Loftus Versfeld] was in 2017, so it is a big moment for us.
“I am immensely proud of the work rate and fight.
“I think where we have grown the most over the past two weeks is with regards to intensity and intent in training.
“I am just happy for the guys to display it on the field.”
— Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) March 4, 2023
One player who certainly deserves a special mention is Lions scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba.
The No.9 produced an incredible individual display, adding 24 points to his team’s tally (five penalties, two conversions and a try).
“His decision-making and right boot complements one another,” Van Rooyen said.
“He’s got the ability to reapply pressure or take pressure away from the guys around him.
“I think he was awesome.”