The Lions (known as the Emirates Lions for sponsorship reasons) are a South Africa n professional rugby union team who compete in the Super Rugby competition. They were previously known as the Cats between the 1998 and 2006 seasons. They have not achieved great success in the competition, finishing at the bottom of the table six times (in 1998, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012). However, they have managed to reach the semifinal stage twice (in 2000 and 2001). The Lions play in a red and white strip.The team faced relegation from the Super 14 after the Southern Spears won a court ruling that they should be included in the competition in place of the lowest ranked South African team in the 2006 competition. However, the Spears and the country's national federation, the South African Rugby Union , reached a settlement of their legal case. By the terms of the settlement, announced on 16 November 2006, the financially troubled Spears abandoned their case.As part of a second attempt to introduce Super Rugby into the Eastern Cape, after finishing bottom of the 2012 Super Rugby table, the South African Rugby Union mandated that the Lions be replaced in the 2013 competition by the Southern Kings from Port Elizabeth. The Lions exclusion lasted just one season as they regained their place in Super Rugby for the 2014 season by beating the Southern Kings in a two leg playoff after the Kings finished bottom of the 2013 South African conference.


Transvaal/Gauteng Lions (1996-97)

When the Super 12 was launched in 1996, both Australia and New Zealand created franchise-based models for their teams in the new tournament. South Africa however, used the previous seasons Currie Cup to determine what provinces would be promoted to the new international tournament. The Transvaal Rugby Union were promoted in the first ever season, winning three of their 11 fixtures, finishing in 10th position on the end of season ladder, above the Canterbury Crusaders and the Western Province.Transvaal were again promoted to the Super 12 for the 1997 season, and played under the title of the Gauteng Lions. The Lions' season was a lot more successful than their results in the inaugural season. The Lions won and lost five matches, and drawing one, to finish in fifth place overall on the end of season table, two points behind the fourth-placed Natal Sharks, narrowly missing out on a place in the finals.

Cats (1998-2005)

-For the 1998 season SA Rugby changed the Currie Cup qualification process for the Super 12, following Australia and New Zealand by forming provincial franchises. The Cats, or Golden Cats were established as one of the four new franchises, and were centered around the Golden Lions , as well as the Leopards and Pumas, as well as drawing from the Free State, Griffons and Griquas. The Cats home ground was to be shared between Ellis Park and the Free State Stadium.The Cats did not make the finals in their first two seasons, but the appointment of former New Zealand coach Laurie Mains for the 2000 season signalled a change in fortunes. After defeating the Bulls in Pretoria in the opening round, they also defeated the Stormers at home in round two. However, the Cats' good fortunes soon went sour as they fell to four straight losses, even going down 64-0 to the Brumbies. The losing streak was snapped when the Cats pulled off a one-point victory over the Sharks in Durban . Following a bye, the Cats stormed through the remainder of the season undefeated to finish in fourth position, their best finish yet, as well as qualifying for a semi-final.The semi-final was played at the Brumbies' home ground in Canberra , with the homeside winning 28-3 to knock the Cats out of the finals. The 2001 Super 12 season started off in a positive style for the Cats; defeating the Stormers 29-24, and then crushing the Highlanders 56-21, as well as narrowly losing a reply of last season's semi-final against the Brumbies 19-17. The Cats qualified for the finals again, finishing in third place bettering last season's fourth. However, they were again knocked out in the semi-finals, losing 30-12, this time to the Sharks. The Cats did not qualify for the finals the next few seasons. Then the Super 12 was expanded into the Super 14 for the 2006 season, with the addition of two new teams; the Central Cheetahs and the Western Force . The Cats finished in 13th place overall.

Lions (2006-)

On 8 September 2006, the Golden Lions Rugby Union, the union that at the time operated both the Golden Lions and the Cats, announced that the team would be known in the future as the Lions, and unveiled a new logo.During the 2010 Super 14 season , the Lions lost all 13 games of the season, setting a new record. The previous record was held by the Bulls, with 0 wins from the 11 game season in 2002. On 20 January 2011, the club announced a 3-year sponsorship deal with telecoms company MTN. From 2011-12 they were known as the MTN Lions for sponsorship reasons. Ivor Ichikowitz and Robert Gumede pledged to purchase a 49.9% stake in the club through their investment company GumaTac in October 2010. The deal fell apart in 2011 due to differences with GLRU executives. In February 2011, the club signed Springbok fly-half Butch James among other high profile signings Lionel Mapoe, Pat Cilliers and Rory Kockott .

Relegation and Lions Challenge Series, 2012-

After finishing on the bottom of the Super Rugby table for the third time in five seasons, South African Rugby Union (SARU) officials voted in August 2012 to relegate the Lions from the competition and promote the Eastern Cape-based Southern Kings .
On 10 January 2013, the GLRU launched a schedule of 16 matches called the 2013 Lions Challenge Series. This series would begin on January 19 against Russia, and conclude on July 20 against Top 14 team Grenoble, to be followed by the Super Rugby promotion/relegation play-off.At the launch of the series, President Kevin de Klerk said:
We took major umbrage to the decision made in Cape Town last year to relegate us, and the easy route would have been to play the blame game and look for scapegoats... But we have decided to get on with the rugby and ensure we continue to serve our stakeholders."
Lions Super Rugby squad
  • Ruan Dreyer
  • Corné Fourie
  • Julian Redelinghuys
  • Pieter Scholtz
  • Dylan Smith
  • Jacques van Rooyen
  • Hookers
  • Robbie Coetzee
  • Malcolm Marx
  • Ramone Samuels
  • Akker van der Merwe
  • Locks
  • Lourens Erasmus
  • Andries Ferreira
  • Robert Kruger
  • MB Lusaseni
  • Franco Mostert
  • Martin Muller
  • Loose Forwards
  • Ruan Ackermann
  • Fabian Booysen
  • Cyle Brink
  • Stephan de Wit
  • Jaco Kriel
  • Ruaan Lerm
  • Warwick Tecklenburg
  • Warren Whiteley (c)
  • Scrum-halves
  • Ross Cronjé
  • Faf de Klerk
  • Dillon Smit
  • Fly-halves
  • Marnitz Boshoff
  • Ashlon Davids
  • Elton Jantjies
  • Jaco van der Walt
  • Centres
  • Stokkies Hanekom
  • Rohan Janse van Rensburg
  • Lionel Mapoe
  • Howard Mnisi
  • Jacques Nel
  • Harold Vorster
  • Wingers
  • Ruan Combrinck
  • Sampie Mastriet
  • Courtnall Skosan
  • Anthony Volmink
  • Fullbacks
  • JW Bell
  • Andries Coetzee
  • Sylvian Mahuza
  • (c) Denotes team captain and Bold denotes internationally capped.

    Current Standings

    12Melbourne Rebels10505235:25823
    16Western Force10208183:32110
    18Southern Kings10109190:4524

    Recent Matches

    Lions Last 5 Results
    30 Apr 2016Lions17 - 50Hurricanes   Details
    28 May 2016Bulls20 - 56Lions   Details
    27 Feb 2016Sunwolves13 - 26Lions   Details
    23 Apr 2016Southern Kings10 - 45Lions   Details
    21 May 2016Lions52 - 24Jaguares   Details

    Lions Next 5 Matches
    02 Jul 2016LionsvsSharks   Details
    08 Jul 2016LionsvsSouthern Kings   Details
    16 Jul 2016JaguaresvsLions   Details


    Years Captain
    1996 Francois Pienaar
    1997 Kobus Wiese
    1998 Hannes Strydom
    1999 Rassie Erasmus
    2000 André Vos
    2001 Rassie Erasmus
    2002 Jannes Labuschagné
    2003 Bobby Skinstad
    2004-2006 Wikus van Heerden
    2007 André Pretorius
    2008 Ernst Joubert
    2009-2010 Cobus Grobbelaar
    2011 Franco van der Merwe
    2012 Josh Strauss
    2014-present Warren Whiteley


    The current head coach of the Lions super rugby team is Johan Ackermann, who has held the position since 2013.
    Coach Tenure Matches Won Drawn Lost Winning Percentage
    Kitch Christie 1996 11 3 0 8 27.3%
    Ray Mordt 1997 11 5 1 5 45.5%
    Peet Kleynhans 1998 11 2 0 9 18.2%
    Andre Markgraaff 1999 11 4 0 6 36.4%
    Laurie Mains 2000-2001 22 14 0 8 63.6%
    Rudy Joubert 2002 11 1 0 9 9.1%
    Tim Lane 2003 11 2 0 9 18.2%
    Chester Williams 2004-2005 22 2 1 19 9.1%
    Frans Ludeke 2006 13 2 1 10 15.4%
    Eugene Eloff 2007-2009 39 11 1 27 28.2%
    Dick Muir 2010 13 0 0 13 0%
    John Mitchell 2011-2012 32 6 1 25 18.8%
    Johan Ackermann 2013-present 34 17 1 16 50%