The SA Rugby decision that is forcing Cheetahs' hand
INTERVIEW: The Cheetahs have been left with the unenviable task of having to beat the Sharks and Stormers away if they are to achieve their goal of winning Super Rugby Unlocked.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie confirmed on Wednesday that his team’s Round Three encounter with the Lions has officially been declared a ‘draw’.
“I just received an email from SA Rugby which stated that the game is a draw and both teams will receive two points,” the Cheetahs coach told a virtual media briefing.
The match was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 24.
However, a series of positive COVID-19 cases at the Ellis Park-based franchise – four in midweek and two more after additional tests done on the Friday – resulted in the match being postponed.
The teams were unable to find a suitable date from the three alternative options proposed by SA Rugby and the match was declared a ‘draw’.
It leaves the Cheetahs trailing the table-topping Bulls (15 points) by four points, with a game in hand and three rounds remaining.
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After the postponed match, the Cheetahs had a bye – leaving them inactive for two weeks.
“It is quite difficult to overcome,” Fourie told the media briefing.
“A bye is always something that can hurt you.
“The cancelled match and the bye breaks our momentum, but we know what we need to do.
“We have three games remaining.”
The Cheetahs – with wins over the Pumas (53-31) and the Bulls (19-17), along with the draw from the Lions game – face the Sharks (in Durban on Friday), the Stormers (at Newlands a week later) and Griquas (in Bloemfontein).
The Bulls face the Lions at Ellis Park this week, then have their bye and conclude their Unlocked fixtures against the Pumas in Pretoria.
It means the Cheetahs will require three wins and even a couple of bonus points if they are to win the Super Rugby leg of South Africa’s revamped domestic competition.
“We are still in the running for this competition, but Friday’s game against the Sharks is the most important one for us.”
Fourie admitted rescheduling the Lions game proved a bridge too far.
“We can’t change it. That’s the decision has been taken and we’ve got to live with it.
“There was an opportunity. They gave us three other dates to play this game, but it would have been difficult. It would have meant that we would’ve played three games in eight days, and this wouldn’t be ideal anyway.
“It might have jeopardised our chances in one of the other games if we played that match on a Wednesday.
“There wasn’t a suitable date to play that game. In the end, it might happen that we are one or two log-points short and it will be devastating if that happens.
“At the moment we still control our own destiny.
“We are still four points behind the Bulls and we have three games left, so we can still finish above them on the log.”