JOHANNESBURG - The Lions reaching three consecutive Super Rugby finals is something special and needs to be celebrated. It is a wonderful achievement for the union, the players, the coaches and the fans.
Whatever happens in Christchurch on Saturday won’t take away from the fact the Lions have been South Africa’s best team for three years and one of the best in Super Rugby in the same time period.The Lions haven’t been given much chance of toppling the Crusaders this weekend, but then not too many teams would be given much chance of stopping Scott Robertson’s men. Maybe the Lions can; many feel they’ve got the pack and the game best suited to do the job few others have managed to do.
Surprises do happen, and by just being in the final, the Lions have given themselves a chance of making history, something that seemed almost impossible just six years ago. The team were kicked out of the Super Rugby competition because they weren’t considered good enough to be a part of it. They were down in the dumps and there were not too many people out there who felt sorry for them; their record in the competition had been that poor.
But they got back into the competition in 2014 and two years later contested a first final; some turn-around. They did so again last year and now, in 2018, join an illustrious group of teams who’ve played in three straight finals. The famous Blues team did it between 1996 and 1998, the championship-winning Brumbies did it between 2000 and 2002 and the Crusaders did it twice, between 1998 and 2000 and between 2003 and 2006.
The Lions are now in that league and, win or lose this weekend, will forever be known as the team that played in three consecutive finals. It’s something the players and coaches will always be able to look back on and feel a sense of pride, and whether you agree with the format of the competition or not matters little; the Lions have only done what has been asked of them, and that’s win a lot of rugby games.