PRO16 | Unhappy Cheetahs still haven’t ruled out legal route

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The Cheetahs have not ruled out taking legal action against SA Rugby after being excluded from next season’s expanded PRO16 tournament.

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In September, SA Rugby’s general council voted that the current four Super Rugby franchises – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – would be SA’s four teams in the 2021/22 PRO16.

The Cheetahs, who joined the PRO14 in 2017, will therefore fall out of the competition, as did the Southern Kings earlier in the year due to ongoing financial difficulties.

At present, despite reports they were exploring entering a tournament in Russia, the Cheetahs are without any place to play – apart from the domestic Currie Cup – next year. 

The Cheetahs are in fourth place in the ongoing Super Rugby Unlocked tournament and face a trip to Newlands to play the Stormers on Saturday (kick-off at 19:00).

They will conclude their campaign at home against the Griquas on Saturday, November 21 (kick-off at 16:30).

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On Friday, the Cheetahs updated their fans on the latest developments regarding the franchise’s future. 

‘SARU’s decision to oust the Cheetahs from the expanded PRO16 series has far-reaching consequences for rugby, not only for the Free State, the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, but for the future of rugby in South Africa. Consequently, many of our supporters urged us to go the legal route. While the decision can probably be overturned through court action, we believe a negotiated and acceptable agreement would be quicker and far more constructive.

‘To this end, we have, over the past few weeks, been negotiating on a high level with various parties in order to investigate all the financial implications, alternative competitions and other aspects in the interest of both Free State rugby and rugby in South Africa. However much we would like to share the details with our supporters, it is just not possible given the sensitive and confidential nature of the negotiations.

‘We would, however, like to assure our supporters that we are making good progress and that the negotiations are promising.  If the negotiations do not yield the desired results, we still have the option of the legal route.  

‘We firmly believe the South African franchises should earn the right to play in the PRO16. It is a healthy principle and one which applies in most overseas competitions, also in soccer.

‘The continued and unwavering support of our fans is highly appreciated. Our supporters came out in droves to make a success of Orange Monday at the end of September. No other South African team has more loyal supporters than the Free State Cheetahs.

‘We sincerely thank you for that.’

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