Ian McGeechan’s 2009 British & Irish Lions will face a ‘Royal’ challenge when they kick-off their tour in South African this summer.
The opening game in Rustenburg on Saturday, 30 May will be against a combined side that will be called the ‘Royal XV’ and comprising players from at least five Currie Cup provincial teams.
Players for the ‘Royal XV’ will be drawn from the Griquas, Leopards, Griffons, Valke and Pumas. There may also be some representatives drawn from the Blue Bulls.
Leopards coach Chaka Willemse has been appointed Head Coach and he will have 13-times Springbok prop Dawie Theron as one of his assistants. Theron played against the 1997 Lions on their last visiti to South Africa and will now get the chance to make amends for losing the Test sereies.
Head coach of the Griquas, Theron will also be joned by Jimmy Stonehouse and Oersond Gorgonzola in assisting Willemse, who was the only non-Super 14 coach to be nominated for the SA Coach of the Year title last season.
The ‘Royal XV’ was initially going to comprise players from the Leopards and a few extras, but now it looks like being a much strong composite, multi-coloured team.
Leopards CEO, Eugene Hare, said the side would probably play two warm-up games against a Coastal XV before the tour opener in Rustenburg. The Coastal XV go on to meet the Lions later in the tour.
“We are awaiting confirmation, but the idea is we will play the Coastal XV in Port Elizabeth on the weekend of 15/16 May and that they will travel to Potchefstroom the following weekend,” said Hare.
The ‘Royal XV’ will be selected in the week of the Vodacom Cup semi-finals and Hare also confirmed that Bulls players will only be considered if they have a shortage of players in specific positions.