Lions deny boozing claims
30 Apr 2010
Kevin de Klerk has refuted allegations that there was a party culture on the Lions’ Australasian tour and that management changed hotels to get closer to a nudist beach.
A disgruntled Lions supporter sent a letter to the union complaining about the side’s performances on their five-match overseas tour and made a number of allegations. The writer claimed it was common knowledge many of the senior players and coaching staff were more focused on the nightlife Down Under, and that before the Waratahs match coach Dick Muir changed team hotels to be closer to a nudist beach.
‘Those stories aren’t true,’ De Klerk, the Lions’ president told keo.co.za. ‘We’ve had feedback from the coaching staff and players and nothing of the sort went on. We have many exuberant young guys, but nothing got out of hand.’
De Klerk said no formal investigation was launched but Muir was asked for his reasoning on the change of hotels before the Waratahs’ match, where the Lions lost 73-12.
‘We’ve quizzed them on that story at our formal committee meeting, which happen once a week or once every two weeks. As Dick put it, it was a no-brainer to change hotels due to the facilities the one offered. The accommodation, food and location was better at the venue the team changed to.
‘We’ve spoken to Dick regarding queries about team performances and activities, and he gave an extremely professional presentation with his response.
‘Dick has far too much to lose as one of the national coaches to do something like that. We also have good kids with high moral fibre, as well as senior players such as Baywatch Grobbelaar, whose integrity can’t be questioned.’
After the Lions’ third loss on tour against the Tahs, De Klerk announced he would fly out to provide ‘moral support’ to the team, but denied this was due to any stories emanating around ill-discipline in the touring group. De Klerk didn’t end up going, and psychologist Henning Gericke went in his place.
‘I was going to go primarily to help the team. One of my main objectives is to get even closer to the players, and I’m proud I have a good rapport with the youngsters, who put their bodies on the line for us. It was just about getting closer to my boys, but eventually financial constraints meant it would have been excessive as eight to 10 days would have cost around R80 000.
‘It was always in the budget for Henning to go, and I talked to Dick at the time and I was satisfied.’
De Klerk said he could understand the supporters’ frustrations, but despite 10 consecutive defeats, he remains optimistic about the future of the side.
‘It’s very sad that someone would make that up, but they’re justified as the team isn’t winning. I’m pleading with the supporters to remain positive. We’re not trying to pull a Loffie Eloff and say watch us in the Currie Cup, but we’re optimistic.
‘We’re looking to strengthen our side with local and overseas-based players, and announcements will be made in the near future. The reputation of Dick and his coaching staff will lure guys here.
‘It’s difficult as guys are asking for crazy amounts and we have financial constraints, which are made even more difficult when we’re not putting bums on seats due to results. But we’re fighting the good fight.’
By Grant Ball