Two of the Lions’ opponents on their most recent tour will have to wait another month for confirmation of their Super Rugby fate.
The Southern Kings faced the 2009 Lions immediately prior to the first Test in South Africa as Sir Ian McGeechan’s men looked ahead to the Boks, while the Golden Lions were beaten early on in the 10-match adventure.
While the 20-8 victory over the Southern Kings provided tough preparation for the opening international in Durban four days later as far as Britain and Ireland’s elite were concerned, the fixture was supposed to act as a stepping stone to Super Rugby admission for the hosts.
The Kings were hoping to become the 15th Super Rugby franchise for the 2011 season but that honour went to the Melbourne Rebels as SANZAR opted for a fifth Australian outfit rather than a sixth South African side.
The decision left the future of the Port Elizabeth-based Kings up in the air but their patience now appears to have paid off after they were ‘guaranteed’ a Super Rugby slot for the 2013 campaign.
That ‘guarantee’ has yet to be re-iterated in public by the South African Rugby Union, however, and the Kings are officially none the wiser as far as their entry is concerned.
With five teams already representing South Africa in the Super 15 and no suggestion from SANZAR that the tournament will be expanded once more, it remains unclear who will be taking part in the competition next year.
A meeting had been scheduled for July 13 in which the issue was due to be resolved but that will now not take place until August 16.
With the Bulls, Cheetahs, Sharks and Stormers unlikely to be overlooked, the Lions seem set to be the side to miss out if the Kings are admitted, but media speculation is also suggesting that the SARU may somehow find a way to keep all parties happy.
The SARU are keeping quiet at the moment, though, and that silence will now continue for another four weeks.
"Media are reminded that the responsibility for deciding South Africa’s participants in the Super Rugby competition rests with the General Council of SARU," said an SARU statement.
"This is clearly an important issue of wide interest. But the decision rests with the General Council and until they have made that decision it serves no purpose to become involved in speculation on any scenarios," added SARU chief executive officer Jurie Roux.