Cheetahs want 'level playing field'
REACTION: All teams should be equal in the COVID-19-affected Super Rugby Unlocked season.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie believes the integrity of the competition is at stake if some teams get to replay their matches and others have to share the points.
His reaction follows the announcement this past weekend that the Round Six match between the Lions and Pumas – scheduled for Ellis Park – was “postponed” in line with COVID-19 protocols.
The Pumas’ critical encounter with the Bulls this coming Friday is also at risk, as a result of the same National Institute for Communicable Diseases ‘prescribed precautions’.
“Plans are already being made to reschedule both Pumas’ matches against the Lions and Bulls,” SA Rugby said in a statement last Friday.
In contrast, the Cheetahs’ Round Three encounter – cancelled after the COVID-19 scare in the Lions camp – was declared a draw and the teams shared the points – two each.
What adds to the complexity is that the Bulls, currently top of the standings, could be overhauled by the Sharks or Stormers – who meet in Durban this coming Saturday.
With one week remaining in the Unlocked season – before it switches to the Currie Cup – the Bulls are on 19 points (plus 70 points differential), Stormers (17 – plus 28) and Sharks (17 – plus six).
The Cheetahs (12), Lions (10), Pumas (five) and winless Griquas (three) lag the pace-setting trio.
(Article continues below standings …)
Not only are the Bulls desperate to play against the Pumas, needing a win to wrap up the Unlocked title, but points are also carried over into the Currie Cup half of the season.
And this is where the Cheetahs have a valid reason to be grumpy about ‘unequal’ treatment.
If the Lions get to replay their Pumas game, they could overtake the Cheetahs in the jockeying for Currie Cup play-off places – if it remains a tight race.
Fourie admitted that he is not sure if there is any chance of having their ‘cancelled’ game against the Lions put back on the ‘replay’ roster – given what SA Rugby said about the Pumas’ encounters with the Lions and Bulls.
He pointed to a statement from SA Rugby which formally declared their Round Three encounter a draw.
“I can’t see how they can treat other teams differently,” Fourie told a virtual media briefing.
“SA Rugby never gave us alternative options to replay the [Lions] game,” he said – adding that they wanted to replay the game.
“The only communications I have seen from SA Rugby is that the game is a draw.
“I feel it is only fair if the same happens to the other teams.
“I don’t think you can make an exception and allow some teams to replay their games and others don’t have that option.
“It could have an influence on the integrity of the competition.”