The Cheetahs believe local franchises should earn the right to play in the PRO16, while the union is still considering legal action if they don’t get the desired outcome from negotiations with SA Rugby.
The Cheetahs and Kings have been kicked out of PRO Rugby, with SA Rugby deciding to enter its four Vodacom Super Rugby franchises – the Vodacom Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – as its representatives in the expanded PRO16 campaign from next year.
In a statement (below) released on Friday, the Cheetahs argued against their axing, thanked their fans for their unwavering support and vowed to continue to fight if they don’t get what they want from their negotiations with SA Rugby.
‘The Free State Cheetahs’ management take note of its supporters’ requests that we should keep them informed about the latest developments with regards to the Cheetahs’ future.’
‘SA Rugby’s decision to oust the Cheetahs from the expanded PRO16-series, have 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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