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Rugby Lions Prepare For Relegation Battle

Rugby Lions are confident of escaping relegation from Premiership Division 2 and cutting crippling losses at the same time.

The Webb Ellis Road club are lying second from bottom in the division but have just strengthened their squad ahead of the end-of-season run-in and managing director Mal Malik is sure they can retain their status.

Lions suffered heavy financial losses in their last two season but have cut their staff and are now, according to Malik, on a sound footing.

He said: 

"We lost around 750,000 over the last two years and we just could not carry on like that. We had to take some prudent decisions and that is what we did to cut costs."

"The idea was to help local talent prosper therefore increasing loyalty and cutting wages and transfer costs. That aspect of the plan has not been successful.

"We are still desperately keen to build a good base of local talent but that has not come through. Either the local players think they are better than they really are or they have not had the breaks.

"None of the Rugby lads except Paul Thompson have come through and really forced their way in.

"At the moment we are not sure what the relegation policy is and how many will go down, it seems to change every day, but we are clearly in a vulnerable position and need to pick up as soon as we can.

"We have recruited in the last couple of weeks but we still have to play Orrell and Waterloo at home and West Hartlepool away. We also need to pick up points off the likes of London Welsh.

"It has not been easy but for the long-term future of the club the decisions had to be made. We finished around 11th last season so if we end in 12th place this season but have saved 250,000 in the process then we will certainly be better off."

New recruits include locks Angus and Hamish Innes both Cambridge blues from Australia second row Tim Collier from Harlequins and loose head prop Phil Shadbolt from Bath.

They have joined recent signings Anthony Raukere and Rob Rawiri both back row forwards scrum half Danny Kmo and Rob Morrow.

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CWN / Sport / Rugby / Rugby Lions  / 2 Mar 00

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