Coach Hawies Fourie hopes there isn’t a scenario where the Cheetahs would need to divide resources between involvement in a restarted PRO14 and a domestic competition, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
This past week it was confirmed that Saturday, 22 August has been selected as a target date for the 2019-20 PRO14 season to restart across all five competing territories.
The proposal is for an abbreviated finish to the 2019-20 season that would include two rounds of derby games in each territory counting towards final positions.
However, SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux reiterated there are ‘many factors to take into consideration’ before knowing how the Cheetahs and Kings would be able to participate in the planned restart of the PRO14.
‘We have to ensure we handle the return-to-train and eventually return-to-play in the best possible way,’ he commented. ‘We’ll only be able to play in local derbies, but nothing can happen before we can travel internally.’
Earlier this month Roux did suggest there was hope that a domestic competition could start in August pending government approval. Yet, with a recent peak in Covid-19 cases, that possibility looks unlikely at present.
Although part of the plans were for the Kings and Cheetahs to participate in South Africa’s domestic version of Vodacom Super Rugby – as was similarly the case with the Western Force rejoining the upcoming Australian reincarnation of the competition – it remains unclear how this would be possible for South Africa’s PRO14 sides.
The possibility of an overlap of the resumed PRO14 and a local competition would surely make it difficult for the Kings or Cheetahs to be involved in both at the same time, and Fourie agreed this was not an attractive or viable prospect.
‘There are so many uncertainties. World Rugby is considering a global season, which could change competition dates as well as international and local rugby. It would be difficult to play in both competitions, though. The Cheetahs had to do that a few years ago and in my opinion that didn’t really work.
‘It would be a tough challenge for any franchise to play in two competitions simultaneously. A domestic competition is very important to South African rugby, and pro rugby is our international competition. I hope we don’t have to choose between the two, and we’ve got good faith it won’t happen and we wouldn’t be put in that position. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone; we’d love to play in both, but not at the same time.’
As it is, Fourie explained that the Cheetahs – as is the case for all South African teams – remained limited in terms of their return-to-training options.
‘The players would love to get back on the field and train with a ball and some equipment, but it’s still not permitted. We are waiting for the government to approve SA Rugby’s proposal, and soon as that is done we will get some direction and hopefully be able to get back on the field to train as a team.’
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images