• Free State to run Cheetahs franchise

    The Free State Cheetahs have become the sole shareholder of the Cheetahs' Vodacom Super Rugby franchise. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.

    For the past nine years, the franchise has been shared between Free State and neighbours Griquas and the Griffons.

    A senior Free State official confirmed Griquas and Griffons players are still eligible to play Super Rugby for the Cheetahs, but the Free State Rugby Union must now get permission from those unions, instead of just calling up those players.

    'While they are not part of the franchise anymore, all the players remain available for Super Rugby. In fact, we are currently negotiating with both unions to try and effect the release of a few players ahead of competition,' the official told SARugbymag.co.za.

    But Griquas CEO Riaan Vorster said the change in franchise ownership had a much bigger impact.

    'Previously, our Super Rugby players were contracted to the franchise, but now that we are no longer shareholders, the Cheetahs must come to us and ask to loan our players. Upon agreement from all parties involved, a player will go on the Cheetahs books as a loanee.

    'Because we have no obligation towards the Cheetahs anymore, this kind of arrangement is not exclusive to them alone. We are open to any other Super Rugby franchise who wants to draw from our player pool.'

    The Cheetahs play their opening Super Rugby game against the Jaguars on 26 February.

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    Mariette Adams