In the end they missed out by one log point meaning the Lions, recent three-time runners-up in Super Rugby, won’t play in the knockout rounds this season.
Swys de Bruin’s men failed to pick up a bonus point against the Bulls in their final round-robin game at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and so ended their campaign in ninth position on the overall log with 35 points. With eight wins from 16 games it wasn’t enough to see them feature in this weekend’s quarter-finals.
It was a campaign that never really got going and it ended with a 48-27 hiding from the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. De Bruin’s men managed to beat only the Stormers, once at Ellis Park a few weeks ago, of the local sides; going down on the five other occasions to local opposition.
Lions boss De Bruin, who also endured a trying time in 2019 as he temporarily quit his job midway through the competition to recover from stress, said he was still immensely proud of the effort by his team and looked to the future with plenty of excitement.
“We lost 13 players going into this year’s campaign, and we tested lots of youngsters ... so I wouldn’t refer to the Lions as having gone backwards this year,” he said about the team finishing ninth, as opposed to winning the SA Conference between 2016 and 2018.