Having endured a little criticism of late for being a wee bit negative about some of the other South African teams, I thought I might try to set the record straight a little. Far from being a complete and utter “big cat hater”, I hereby give you the ten things I like about the Lions and the Cheetahs.
1) Ellis Park Stadium. Weird, I know, but I have yet to experience a more intense atmosphere than when Ellis Park is packed out for a big game. As much as I understand and appreciate why the Lions may want to relocate, you’ve got to hand it to them for still having the “grand dame” of old school rugby stadia in South Africa.
2) John Mitchell. Top rugby man, top rugby brain and a good friend of our own Plummo. While I may not particularly like or respect too many of the other figures involved in the Lions administration, in Mitch they have a really top bloke looking after the most important aspect – the results.
3) Andries Strauss. What a player, what a legend! Watching him play in a Cheetahs jersey again will be somewhat bittersweet, but he will always have my support and appreciation for his years of loyal service to the Sharks.
4) Nico Serfontein. Another truly great coach and “structures man” whom the Lions have brought in to get their junior rugby sorted out. It’s not going to happen overnight, but if I were a Lions fan, I’d be far more excited about this development than anything else that has happened there.
5) The Cheetahs loose forwards. What a truly superb combination, with captain courageous Juan Smith, the überpoacher Hein Brüssow and the seemingly indestructible Ashley Johnson at the back. One of the best balanced units in the country, in my book.
6) Griquas. What a plucky team – always getting dealt the worst of hands, yet somehow still managing to play good rugby and remain competitive throughout. They’re a part of the Cheetahs franchise at the end of the day and it’s always pleasing to see a good smattering of hard-as-nails Kimberley boys playing for the Cheetahs Super Rugby team.
7) The Sharks in Lions colours. Waylon Murray, Rory Kockott, Joe Snyman, Renaldo Bothma, Mike Rhodes, Pat Cilliers, Warren Whiteley… the list goes on. While they may have failed to poach any truly big names, the Lions nevertheless have a solid core of guys who have dished up superb rugby in the black and white in the past. None of them is a bad player and I wish all of them well as they continue to make big strides in Johannesburg.
8) Jaco Taute. What an awesome player. This young man is a truly exciting home-grown talent for the Lions and along with Elton Jantjies, should ensure plenty of exciting attacking rugby for their fans in years to come.
9) Coenie Oosthuizen. His play reminds me of all the good things that made us love Ollie le Roux. Props that run and score tries while still holding their end up in the scrum are always a pleasure to watch.
10) Whindy, CSB, Walter and co. This sounds like one of those AA-style confessions, but here goes anyway. “I’m Rob and some of my best friends are Lions supporters”. While it’s no secret that I don’t hold the “run-of-the-mill” Lions fans in particularly high regard, I truly and honestly treasure those guys who have managed to look beyond my blatant Sharks bias and stick with us as we’ve turned Sharksworld into the success it is today.Tweet