The Lions’ Super Rugby campaign has been thrown into disarray with head coach Swys de Bruin headed back to South Africa for “personal reasons”, while defence coach Joey Mongalo has been convicted and sentenced for sexual assault in Australia.
The three-time competition runners-up are currently on their Super Rugby tour of Australasia where last week they lost to the Brumbies in Canberra, but yesterday beat the Chiefs 23-17 in a thrilling round 10 tie.
De Bruin though wasn’t at the stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand, yesterday. News had earlier filtered through that he had left the team overnight and was set to return to South Africa. No explanation was forthcoming from the Lions other than that of “personal reasons” for his quick exit.
It was interesting though that the team announced in the week by De Bruin for the match against the Chiefs didn’t include Springbok stars Malcolm Marx or Elton Jantjies in the starting team, but when the team ran out on Friday both men were in the run-on side.
Meanwhile, Mongalo, the team’s defence coach of the last two years, has been convicted and sentenced for indecent assault for an incident that took place in a hotel stairwell with a hotel employee a year ago when the Lions were on tour and in Sydney. It happened three days after the Lions had beaten the Waratahs.
The court handed down an undisclosed sentence last week, but Mongalo has said he will appeal the conviction. He is also set to face an internal disciplinary hearing with the Lions.
The Lions were not prepared to say any more on the matter.
Regular conditioning boss Ivan van Rooyen is believed to have taken charge of the side in the absence of De Bruin, who only recently signed a contract extension at the Lions which will see him coach the team until 2021. The Lions next face the defending champions, the Crusaders, in Christchurch next Friday before they return home.@jacq_west
Independent on Saturday