Picture: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd
Picture: 123RF/Wavebreak Media Ltd

As expected, SA rugby is seeking a future north, with its four former Super Rugby franchises — the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions — set to play in Europe’s PRO14.

This effectively means the end of the road for the Cheetahs in the PRO14, though they have an agreement in place to play in that competition until at least 2022/2023. The Southern Kings, who were also part of that competition, have suspended onfield operations.

The Cheetahs said in a statement they would “retain franchise status and managed to negotiate its participation as a fifth franchise in a Super 8 competition, with additional income”.

“The four metro franchises were voted in to participate in the PRO16 competition in Europe,” they said.

Harold Verster, MD of the Free State Cheetahs, said they reserved their rights. “The implications of the business model have to be assessed and the board will decide on the way forward.

“The local competitions are exciting and offer a good prospect. Because of that, it is a competition that all 14 SA franchises will be taking part in after which a Currie Cup double round, home and away, will take place with all eight teams.

“Free State Rugby will review all implications and thereafter determine the way forward.”

Verster did not respond to calls to explain what the Super 8 would entail.

In an earlier statement, they said they had a solid legal case to play in PRO14 until at least the 2022/2023 season and had enlisted the services of senior advocate Wim Trengove.

In that statement, Verster said: “We will therefore take part in discussions about the domestic Vodacom and Currie Cup competitions and the international PRO Rugby or other competitions that may arise.

“We simply want to be acknowledged as a proud, viable, match-winning and talent-producing franchise on equal terms with the other four,” said Verster.

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