Veteran scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is adamant the Cheetahs will not be booted from the PRO14 if the competition is expanded to 16 teams.
According to local Sunday newspaper Rapport and several other publications in Europe, the latest developments in the PRO14 could further expand the competition further include the four South African Super Rugby franchises at the expense of the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
The PRO14 is set to become the PRO16 from as early as the 2021-22 season, with reports suggesting the Cheetahs and Kings will only stay on if the competition was expanded to 18 teams, which is unlikely.
Speaking to Rugbyrocks.com, Pienaar said he believes the Cheetahs’ performance since their inclusion in 2017 justified their continued participation in the tournament.
‘We’re confident the Cheetahs will be part of Pro Rugby going forward, whether it’s a 14-, 16- or 18-team tournament,’ Pienaar said.
‘The Cheetahs have done well since joining the PRO14 [in 2017], reaching the playoffs in their first season. They’ve remained competitive and play a brand of rugby that people enjoy watching.
‘Every Cheetahs player will tell you they enjoy playing in the PRO14. Teams like Leinster and Ulster have world-class players and most of the British & Irish Lions squad comes from those who play in the PRO14. It’s been a big challenge for us but really enjoyable and we’ve learned a lot.’
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