Lions face unique challenge

The Lions will kick off their 2013 campaign against Russia next Saturday in the first of 12 matches at Ellis Park.

Having lost their Super Rugby status, the Joburg-based franchise has been forced to arrange fixtures against minnow nations, French and US clubs, and invitational sides that they hope will prepare them for their promotion-relegation tie against the last-place team in the SA conference.

The Lions will play the majority of their matches at home, which will please their fans, while travelling to California, Vancouver, Chicago and Windhoek.

Meanwhile, the GLRU is looking for a new naming-rights sponsor for Ellis Park after Coca-Cola opted not to renew their five-year, R12 million-a-year deal.

19 January: vs Russia, Ellis Park (7pm)
26 January: vs Cheetahs, Ellis Park (5pm)
2 February: vs Bulls, Orlando Stadium (3pm)
9 February: vs Kings, Ellis Park (TBC)
23 February: vs Namibia in Windhoek (TBC)
16 March: vs Mont de Marsan, Ellis Park (7:30pm)
13 April: vs US Invitational, California (TBC)
20 April: vs North American Barbarians, Vancouver (TBC)
27 April: vs Chicago Lions, Chicago (TBC)
11 May: vs Agen, Ellis Park (3pm)
1 June: vs Samoa, Ellis Park (3pm)
8 June: vs French Barbarians, Ellis Park (2pm)
15 June: vs Stormers, Ellis Park (2pm)
21 June: vs Sharks, Ellis Park (7pm)
12 July: vs Montpellier, Ellis Park (7pm)
20 July: vs Grenoble, Ellis Park (2.30pm)
27 July: Promotion-relegation play-off, TBC (TBC)
3 August: Promotion-relegation play-off, Ellis Park (TBC)