JOHANNESBURG - Spending four weeks living out of a suitcase isn’t nice - ask any regular traveller. And it’s the same for sports men and women who do plenty of travelling.
And while for the South Africans a one-week stop in Buenos Aires is tough, it’s the three and four week trips to Australasia that are the hardest to bare. It means several flights, hours spent in airports, travelling around in coaches and living out of suitcases ... not pleasant. Then there’s the on-field training, video sessions, recovery sessions and gym work that needs to be included somewhere.
There’s an awful lot to be considered when planning a trip like the one the Lions are currently on. They’re in Sydney at the moment, having played against the Waratahs last Friday, and head to Brisbane onn Friday for their date with the Reds on Saturday.
Then it’s off to New Zealand for matches against the Hurricanes in Wellington on the North Island and then the Highlanders in Dunedin on the South Island. Only thereafter can the players and management members think about getting home ... possibly by flying from Dunedin to Auckland to Sydney and then on to Johannesburg.
Professional sportsmen like the Lions players, get to see the world, too, or at least parts of the globe they’d otherwise not have got to see. And sometimes they stay in quite wonderful places, like this week in Sydney.
“We’re staying in Coogee ... it’s beautiful,” said Lions boss Swys de Bruin. No kidding. The coastal suburb, 8km south east of the Sydney CBD, has sandy beaches and pools, there are pubs and restaurants and the views are spectacular.
"We know this place well; it’s a lot like Ballito or Umhlanga ... the guys enjoy walking on the beach and playing ‘touchies’. We have no problems keeping them busy.”
The Lions have enjoyed touring in recent years, winning far more often than they’ve lost.
“We enjoy touring ... the guys and coaching team are very close,” said De Bruin. “When it’s game time we focus on the game but when we relax we relax properly. We like to play cards when we get a chance and on this tour we’re planning a sight-seeing trip to the Blue Mountains.”
So, touring can be, and is, hard work, but it’s also not all bad.