The Cheetahs’ imminent entry into a restructured Pro12 competition is set to initiate a coaching restructure. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The Cheetahs are in line to be joined by the Kings in Europe’s Pro12 from next season, with the official announcement set to be made in the coming days.
Although the format of the new competition has yet to be publicly finalised, it’s believed that it will feature two conferences of seven teams each, with home and away fixtures.
With the new ‘Pro14’ poised to get unde rway in early September, and therefore overlap with some part of the Currie Cup, the Cheetahs are likely to have to rotate their players between the two tournaments. The Kings would be expected to field their strongest side in the Pro14, as they have been cut from the Currie Cup Premier Division.
Due to the changes in the Cheetahs’ competition commitments, they will also need to make some astute adjustments to their coaching set-up.
As it is, Super Rugby head coach Franco Smith remains committed to the Springboks as an assistant coach, and will be involved with the national team during the November end-of-year Tests.
Although Smith confirmed to SARugbymag.co.za last week that he was determined to continue making a contribution at the Cheetahs, he is expected to have a slight change in role that will see his position redefined as director of rugby.
Rory Duncan, who will be coaching the Currie Cup team, is also set to take charge of the Pro14 team, with Smith providing input where possible.
Last week, Smith mentioned that he was looking forward to involvement in the Pro12 again, with the well-travelled coach having worked with Italian club Treviso between 2003 and 2006.
‘I have coached in the Pro12 before, and I know the nature of that competition,' he told SARugbymag.co.za. 'I think we’ve established a good culture and work ethic here at the Cheetahs, and so I want to continue helping to develop players here and imparting whatever knowledge I can.’
Earlier this week, Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster also told OFM Sport that they were looking forward to a new venture ‘up north'.
‘We have negotiated an amicable solution and there is a wonderful opportunity for us up north, for the Cheetahs and Kings. It will be easier to travel and so on, so we’re excited about the new venture.
‘[The Pro12] have opted to make the release themselves once everything is in place. That will be around about 15 July, once their board is in place. It’s a company and SA Rugby will be joining and be a part of the company as shareholders.
‘Once those things have settled they will make the big announcement as to exactly where, when and how it will work. It will slot us out of Super Rugby, but I think that it will be very beneficial for us.’
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Kings coach Deon Davids will continue in his current role or consider opportunities elsewhere, with the Eastern Cape franchise having enjoyed a highly impressive final season in Super Rugby.
Davids was said to be quite emotional when he addressed his players prior to Wednesday’s final team announcement, with several key members of the current squad set to move away from Port Elizabeth.
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