According to a report on the MTN Lions website and confirmed through other sources, the Lions trip to the USA, including a match April 13 against a North American All-Stars team, has been canceled.
Late the evening of April 4, the Lions decided to pull out, apparently due to costs and the fact that the second leg of their trip, which was supposed to be in Canada but had been moved to Texas to play an as-yet-unnamed lineup of players, lacked details.
The decision has come as a shock to organizers in the USA, who were moving ahead with plans as late as Thursday afternoon, April 4. NA All-Stars captain, Todd Clever, was touting the event on the latest RuggaMatrix Podcast, which was recorded April 2.
This comes as a blow to USA Rugby, which had put resources into assembling a team for the April 13 match, resources that are at a premium.
In addition, much local work had been done to get this event off the ground.
The Lions announcements said, in part:
This the unfortunate result of uncertainty regarding the quality of the opposition, accommodation and travel limitations, as well as increased cost aggravated by the weakening exchange rate.
“We would like to apologise to all supporters and the players, staff and management who have been affected by the forced late cancellation of the American tour,” said Golden Lions Rugby Union CEO Manie Booysen. “While we regret having to cancel the tour, we believe it is important to have the team’s travel and accommodation needs met. We were also concerned the level of competition that the MTN Lions would face abroad would not be of a strong enough standard."
This last comment might well be regarding the second match, which was supposed to be between the Lions and a Canada-heavy North American 15, but, with the move to Texas, the opposition was not confirmed, and would likely not be the players in the first match.