The Cheetahs received the 2019 Currie Cup (Picture: Gordon Arons/Gallo Photos)
Are the Cheetahs going to tug a brief straw in rugby … once more?
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It’s starting to look more and more that means, given the mounting thought that SA Rugby needs to change its 4 present Tremendous Rugby-level franchises into an expanded PRO14.
The favoured mannequin being a PRO16, it appears, signifies that each the Cheetahs (significantly much less deservedly) and brittle Kings look imperilled for future participation, assuming that each one “main Take a look at unions” the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls and Lions earn the 4 out there South African locations.
It will be tough on a Bloemfontein-based outfit who’ve been at very least aggressive within the PRO14 and have been pushing onerous for knockout standing once more earlier than the coronavirus-related suspension of 2019/20 exercise earlier this 12 months.
There could be a bitter irony within the Cheetahs getting elbowed out once more: they’d been faraway from Tremendous Rugby itself after the 2017 marketing campaign as that match underwent one more of its controversial tinkering drives.
Once more, the central-province outfit had motive to really feel onerous carried out by, as they have been banished regardless of ending 13th general out of the 18 groups of their final 12 months within the southern-hemisphere occasion.
Throw in the truth that the Cheetahs are defending Currie Cup champions, having crushed the Lions 31-28 in final September’s showpiece, and their supporters have each motive to take a dim view certainly of one other unceremonious axing within the close to future.
I’m not even positive if a bidding course of for PRO16 berths could be sufficient to avoid wasting them, frankly: the “outdated cash” of the opposite quartet, in the event you like, may show decisive even because the Cheetahs virtually definitely boast a robust ethical case for retention.
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What, then, is the one different attainable means you could possibly hold them lively within the competitors, whereas additionally having illustration from all the opposite conventional heavyweights already talked about?
Although extremely unlikely, it’d spark as soon as extra the controversy that many choose to tiptoe round: the potential of making a highveld “super-franchise” amalgamation – even when not for home competitors functions – between the Bulls and Lions.
Geographically, after all, Johannesburg and Pretoria are just some 50 kilometres aside, separated by a multi-lane motorway and just about one metropolis as of late anyway, such is the extent of improvement in between.
Sure, you could possibly feasibly cut up house video games between massive Take a look at venues Loftus and Ellis Park: neither floor has been pulling in prolific numbers via the turnstiles in current seasons as separate entities, let’s not neglect.
Mix the sources, nonetheless sacrilegious it might sound to diehard followers of every facet, and you’ll have a considerably higher probability of making a constant “successful tradition” via extraordinarily respectable squad depth.
After I mentioned this very difficulty just a few years in the past with the likes of Owen Nkumane, Jean de Villiers and Elma Smit on a SuperSport chat present after first elevating the subject on Sport24, Nkumane, particularly, was by no means averse to the thought of a “Purple Bulls” type of rugby model alliance between the large cities.
What do readers of this text assume? Let’s hear it!
*Rob Houwing is Sport24’s chief author. Observe him on Twitter: @RobHouwing