Lions link to new Cape team

Ian McGeechan's British & Irish Lions will part a part in the launch of a new rugby franchise for the South Eastern Cape in South Africa in June. [more]

Lions link to new Cape team

Ian McGeechan’s British & Irish Lions will part a part in the launch of a new rugby franchise for the South Eastern Cape in South Africa in June.

The aim is to get the new team playing Super 14 rugby in the not too distant future and the official launch of the new franchise will take place in Port Elizabeth in June when the Lions are in the city to play a Coastal XV.
The new initiative is a joint venture between the Eastern Province and Border Rugby Unions, with the backing of the South African Rugby Union.
Top class rugby has been played in the region ever since the Lions first toured South Africa in 1891. On that tour the Lions played three games in Port Elizabeth, beating the home town team 22-0, Eastern Province 21-0 and the Springboks 4-0.
That was the first Test played between the two teams, with the Lions coming out on top 4-0 on 30 July at the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club ground.
The Lions played their first game in East London on their second tour of South Africa in 1896 and have met Border eight times, including on their last visit in 1997.
The complete Lions tour record in Port Elizabeth and East London is:

1891: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Port Elizabeth; Bt Eastern Province; Bt South Africa
1896: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Port Elizabeth; Bt Eastern Province; Bt South Africa
In East London – Bt East London
1903: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Port Elizabeth; Bt Eastern Province
In East London – Bt East London
1910: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Bt South Africa
In East London – Bt Border
1924: In Port Elizabeth: Lost to Eastern Province
In East London – Bt Border
1938: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Lost to South Africa
In East London – Bt Border
1955: In Port Elizabeth: Lost to Eastern Province; Lost to South Africa
In East London – Lost to Border
1962: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Bt Central Universities
In East London – Bt Border
1968: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Drew South Africa
In East London – Bt Border
1974: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Beat South Africa
In East London – Bt Border; Bt African XV
1980: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province; Lost to South Africa
In East London – Bt SARA XV
1997: In Port Elizabeth – Bt Eastern Province Invitation XV
In East London – Bt Border

Lions in Port Elizabeth
P: 21 W: 15 D: 1 L: 5

Lions in East London
P: 12 W: 11 L: 1

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The Lions play a Coastal XV, which will have players from both the Eastern Province and Border Unions, in Port Elizabeth on 16 June and the formal announcement of the new franchise is expected to take place then.
The meeting at which the decision was taken to move ahead with the new team took place this week and was chaired by Mark Alexander, the deputy president of SARU, and attended by Cheeky Watson, the president of Eastern Province, SARU president Oregan Hoskins, SARU vice-president Rautie Rautenbach and Andy Marinos, acting managing director of SA Rugby.
“It was an extremely positive meeting and there was broad agreement on the way forward,” said Mr Alexander.
“All parties see the proper placing and establishment of sound structures as a key priority to ensure the success of the South Eastern Cape franchise.
“All stakeholders will be consulted fully with a view to the franchise eventually being established in the Super Rugby structures. The meeting acknowledged that the establishment of the franchise is a process that needs careful preparation and a thorough business plan to ensure its future success.”
The name of the new team has yet to be decided, although it won’t be the Southern Spears, the name chosen a few years ago for another team suggested for the region.
“There is a desperate hunger for top-flight rugby in the South Eastern Cape and this is the first step to satisfying it,” said Mr Watson.
“There is much work to be done but the region has the resources and the capacity to deliver.”

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