PRO14

Cheetahs: Playoffs principle should determine SA's 4 PRO16 participants

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Stormers v Cheetahs at Newlands (Gallo)
Stormers v Cheetahs at Newlands (Gallo)
  • The Cheetahs believe there should be a playoff structure to determine SA's PRO16 participants.
  • This comes after the Cheetahs' sponsor, Toyota, hit out at SA Rugby over the weekend.
  • SA Rugby recently said its four Super Rugby franchises - the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers - would play in the PRO16.


The Cheetahs have called on SA Rugby to adopt a playoff structure to determine the country's entrants in an expanded PRO16 event in Europe.

SA Rugby recently pulled its four Super Rugby franchises - the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers - out of the southern hemisphere event in favour of playing in an expanded PRO Rugby event.

This scenario would leave the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, who have played in the PRO14 since 2017, out in the cold.

Over the weekend, the Cheetahs' main sponsor, Toyota, hit out at SA Rugby for booting the Bloemfontein-based franchise out of PRO Rugby

The sponsor called on SA Rugby to embrace the principle of promotion-relegation to ensure the best four South African teams play in an expanded PRO16 event.

On Wednesday, the Cheetahs released a statement in which they thanked the sponsor for its continued support and backed the idea that playoffs should be used to determine South Africa's participants in PRO Rugby.

"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 (SA Rugby), should adopt the principle of playoffs to ensure that the best four SA teams participate in the PRO16 international competition," the Cheetahs said in the statement.

The Cheetahs added that the two domestic competitions - Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup - should be used to determine which four teams advance.

"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."

Full Cheetahs statement:

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 (SA Rugby), should adopt the principle of playoffs 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.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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