Johannesburg – A delegation from the SA Rugby Union (Saru) met Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) officials in Johannesburg on Thursday to discuss ways of managing the impact of the Lion's exclusion from the 2013 Super Rugby competition.

The Saru delegation met with the GLRU's top brass to review the effects of the Lions' relegation from the tournament, following last week's vote by the country's provinces.

“This was an exploratory conversation and it's too early to predict what the outcomes will be,” Saru CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement.

“We reviewed the MTN Lions' Super Rugby business model and considered the financial impact.

“The exclusion of any of the existing five franchises was a last resort for Saru.”

Roux said they would look into ways of supporting the Lions in the short term.

GLRU president Kevin de Klerk, who was scathing about the decision to relegate the Gauteng-based franchise, attended the meeting with his deputy Altman Allers and acting chief executive Ruben Moggee.

“The conversation was a very serious discussion on the future of the MTN Lions and hopefully we can work together to some positive outcomes,” De Klerk said.

The general council's decision to relegate the Lions, following an earlier proposal that the franchise occupying the lowest log position of the five franchises at the end of 2012, be relegated.

A decision was taken in January that the Southern Kings would play in the 2013 Super Rugby competition.

Last week's meeting decided which of the other four teams would remain in the South African Conference next year.

The Lions would have a chance to regain their status in 2014 through a two-legged promotion and relegation series against the lowest South African franchise on the log.

The Union suffered another debilitating setback this week when they lost their arbitration case against franchise partners, the Leopards and the Pumas Rugby Unions.

This followed a dispute over franchise money the Lions owed the two unions.

Retired judge Willie Hartzenberg ruled that the Lions owed the Leopards R2.5 million for the 2008 and 2010 seasons.

Hartzenberg found the Lions did not have to pay the Pumas as the payment was concluded in a previous agreement.

He further ruled that the GLRU had 48 hours to conclude the agreement for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, or Saru would have to decide how to distribute their annual franchise fees.

Roux said Saru had noted the decision of the arbiter in the case for compensation brought by the two Unions against the GLRU, their partner in the Lions franchise.

He said the matter had not been discussed with the Lions as it would have been inappropriate to do so in the absence of the junior partners in the franchise. – Sapa