Hawies Fourie. (Gallo Images)
Ever the black sheep, the Cheetahs on Tuesday were officially sidelined from South Africa’s PRO Rugby future.
In a move that was widely expected, SA Rugby’s general council voted to have the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers as the four franchises that will participate in a mooted PRO16 expansion.
It’s a cruel blow for the central franchise, who took a giant leap of faith back in mid-2017 in moving to Europe along with the Southern Kings after both were cut from Super Rugby.
However, in a statement, the Cheetahs noted that it had negotiated a compromise of sorts by confirming their participation in a “Super 8 competition” that will secure them “additional income”.
Details on the tournament are sketchy but it’s understood that it could involve cross-border play against New Zealand and Australian teams.
“The implications of the business model have to be assessed and the board will decide on the way forward,” the franchise said.
The Cheetahs are also understood to have preserved their franchise status though the lack of a competition to play in currently means they’re in the same boat as neighbours Griquas and the Pumas.
“Free State Rugby will review all implications and thereafter determine the way forward.”
Meanwhile, the statement also confirmed that the Currie Cup is set for a revamp in 2021, whereby all 14 unions will participate in a qualification tournament for the main, strength-versus-strength event.