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Thu 19 Nov 2020 | 11:47

Cheetahs: Play-offs should determine Pro16 participation

Cheetahs: Play-offs should determine Pro16 participation
Thu 19 Nov 2020 | 11:47
Cheetahs: Play-offs should determine Pro16 participation
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NEWS: The Cheetahs believe the use of play-offs is the way forward to determine the South African teams participating in the Pro16.

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The Bloemfontein side were dumped from Pro Rugby by SA Rugby with the Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Stormers set to join an expanded competition for the 2021/22 European season.

It was a decision that angered the Cheetahs, which has set the union on a path of looking at ‘alternative options’.

The Cheetahs’ main sponsor, Toyota, in a report over the weekend, also expressed their disappointment with SA Rugby’s decision to kick the Cheetahs out of Pro Rugby.

The sponsor called on SA Rugby to adopt “promotion-relegation matches” to ensure the best teams participate in the Pro16 and the Cheetahs supported the idea.

The Cheetahs also brought up the idea of using the  Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup standings to determine the teams participating in Europe.

“The Free State Cheetahs management are extremely thankful and appreciative of Toyota South Africa’s strong statement over the weekend that they are eager to continue their nine-year-long sponsorship of the Free State Cheetahs,” the Cheetahs said in a statement.

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“We also support them in their belief that the South African Rugby Union (SARU), should adopt the principle of play-offs to ensure that the best four SA teams participate in the Pro16 international competition.

“Free State Cheetahs management can see no reason why the current Super Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions cannot be adopted to determine the teams to represent South Africa in next year’s Pro16.

“If the Cheetahs don’t end up amongst the top four teams, so be it. At least fairness would prevail and ensure the continued development of the five major SA franchises. It would also deliver the best possible talent for supporters and Springbok selection.”

As it stands, the Cheetahs are currently fourth in the Super Rugby Unlocked standings ahead of the final round fixture against Griquas.

Read the full Cheetahs statement below:

Cheetahs: Play-offs should determine Pro16 participation

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The Free State Cheetahs management are extremely thankful and appreciative of Toyota South Africa’s strong statement over the weekend that they are eager to continue their nine-year-long sponsorship of the Free State Cheetahs. We also support them in their belief that the South African Rugby Union (SARU), should adopt the principle of play-offs to ensure that the best four SA teams participate in the PRO16 international competition.

Free State Cheetahs management can see no reason why the current Super Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions cannot be adopted to determine the teams to represent South Africa in next year’s PRO16. If the Cheetahs don’t end up amongst the top four teams, so be it. At least fairness would prevail and ensure the continued development of the five major SA franchises. It would also deliver the best possible talent for supporters and Springbok selection.

We therefore salute Toyota’s solid support for the Cheetahs. They have made an invaluable contribution to rugby in the Free State and in South Africa, are a strong international brand and a progressive, solid, dependable partner.

COVID-19 has in the meantime disrupted the Super Unlocked series. The Lions’ games against the Cheetahs and the Pumas were cancelled, as well as the game this weekend between the Sharks and the Stormers. There is also a possibility that the Bulls’ game, currently scheduled for Saturday, might be cancelled.

Should that be the case, the Bulls will end up as the first winners of the Super Unlocked trophy. We believe they are deserved winners, having lost only against the Cheetahs.

After last weekend’s unfortunate loss against the Stormers, the Cheetahs are currently fourth on the log and will stay there if we beat Griquas on Saturday. The cancellation of the match between the Stormers and the Sharks is unfortunate, as it has ruled out the Cheetahs’ chance of moving up to third place on the log. The cancellation means that the Sharks and the Stormers will now both get two points, moving them to 19 points on the log, which is beyond the Cheetahs’ reach.

A win against Griquas, even without a bonus point, will ensure that we end up amongst the top four teams. This is by no means going to be a walk in the park. Griquas have advanced/by leaps and bounds since the start of the competition and were extremely unlucky not to pull off a win against the Sharks last weekend.

The Cheetahs have everything to play for, even though the Griquas are going to be a tough nut to crack, we will do our best!

To all our loyal supporters thank you for your continued support.

#CheetahsForever

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Cheetahs: Play-offs should determine Pro16 participation | Rugby365