Cheetahs looking to go Russian or US route after PRO14 expulsion - report

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Harold Verster (Gallo)
Harold Verster (Gallo)
  • The Cheetahs' playing future could lie in Russia or the USA, according to a report.
  • Following their expulsion from PRO Rugby, the Russian league in particular could be appetising as it could allow for backdoor participation in the lucrative European Champions Cup.
  • The franchise's official position is that they're looking at all possibilities.

The Cheetahs are reportedly expanding their horizons wider than just a "Super 8" tournament against Australian teams as compensation for being booted out of PRO Rugby.

According to Rapport, the central franchise is actively exploring the possibility of joining leagues in Russia or the USA.

Sport24 last week reported that exposure to the American game has been mooted but that certain financial considerations could derail such plans

Instead, the Russian route is an intriguing one because it could allow the Cheetahs to qualify for the lucrative European Champions Cup via participation in the European Shield or European Challenge Cup.

It's understood that the franchise would have to bankroll its participation on its own though it would have headline sponsor, Toyota, on board as their substantial agreement is dependent on the team playing internationally.

Clarity on the details of the Russian league is expected to be given within a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs' official position remains one rooted in consultations.

"The Free State Cheetahs are still engaged in high-level talks with SA Rugby, SuperSport, sponsors, other franchises and stakeholders to ensure the Cheetahs remain a valuable, viable and competitive franchise in South African rugby and world rugby in general," it said in a statement last weekend.

"The board of the Cheetahs this (last Friday) morning mandated its negotiating team to continue with these complex, time-consuming and mostly constructive negotiations.

"While the Cheetahs reaffirm their entrenched rights in PRO14 and an expanded PRO16, they have actively pursued other opportunities."

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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