Cheetahs looking at 'alternative options'
STATEMENT: The Cheetahs’ battle for a place in rugby’s spotlight has become a painfully slow process.
However, the Bloemfontein-based franchise is continuing to look at ‘alternative options’, after being dumped from the Pro14 by SA Rugby.
South African Rugby Union, at a Special General Meeting last month, voted to explore entering four teams into an expanded Pro Rugby competition in Europe – as well as retaining a place in a revised SANZAAR competition.
The Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are to take their places in an expanded Pro16 for the 2021/22 European season
The Cheetahs was initially looking to join a revamped Australasian competition.
In a statement on Friday, the Cheetahs said they are still engaged in “high-level talks” with SA Rugby, broadcasters, sponsors, other franchisees and stakeholders.
“This is to ensure the Cheetahs remain a valuable, viable and competitive franchise in South African rugby and world rugby in general,” Ryno Opperman, Chairman of the board, and Harold Verster, MD of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd, said in the joint statement.
“The Board of the Cheetahs this morning mandated its negotiating team to continue with these complex, time-consuming and mostly constructive negotiations.”
The Cheetahs still stand firm in their belief that they have a legal and ‘entrenched’ right to compete in the in Pro14 and an expanded Pro16.
However, they are actively “pursuing other opportunities”.
“As rugby reorganises and reinvents itself after the COVID-19 impact, new permutations and opportunities arise.
“The Board continues to explore possibilities in the interest of the Cheetahs, players, staff, supporters, sponsors and other stakeholders.”