Lions are al­ready the pride of SA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

SI­taly. OUTH African rugby was at a pos­si­ble all- time low last year when the na­tional team suf­fered a dis­heart­en­ing run of de­feats, in­clud­ing the hor­ror of a first-time loss to This year morale has been re­stored thanks to the Lions who have not only won through to to­day’s Su­per Rugby fi­nal in Jo­han­nes­burg against New Zealand’s finest, the Cru­saders, but also pro­vided the back­bone for the Spring­bok white­wash of the tour­ing French in June. The res­ur­rec­tion of the Lions from the dead – four years ago they were rel­e­gated from Su­per Rugby into the rugby wilder­ness – is a salu­tary les­son for South Africans in so many spheres of our lives. Team­work, strong lead­er­ship, a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and en­joy­ment in col­lab­o­rat­ing to­wards a greater good are hall­marks of the meta­mor­pho­sis of the Lions. They are 80 min­utes away from be­com­ing the cham­pi­ons of the South­ern Hemi­sphere and argu- ably the best team in world rugby. And all done with a smile on their faces as they prove what can be done when every­body pulls in the same di­rec­tion The Lions are an in­cred­i­ble story of fel­low­ship built around a pow­er­ful, in­spir­ing coach in Jo­han Ack­er­mann, who de­parts the Lions this evening to take up a po­si­tion at an English club. The Lions play­ers will be strain­ing ev­ery sinew to re­ward their coach with the Su­per Rugby ti­tle. For­mer Spring­bok Ack­er­mann, a colos­sal fig­ure lit­er­ally and me­taphor­i­cally, de­serves noth­ing less. What­ever the re­sult at the fi­nal whis­tle this evening, these Lions are al­ready the pride of South Africa. The Lions have shown that pro­fes­sional rugby is not all about money – it re­mains a team sport where can achieve the seem- in­gly im­pos­si­ble. Four years ago the Lions were in the rugby equiv­a­lent of the gut­ter. This evening they could be crowned Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons. The Lions story is al­ready a re­mark­able one. Let’s hope the fi­nal chap­ter is a fit­ting one.

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