Outgoing coach Franco Smith has expressed his delight after the Cheetahs survived a strong fightback from the Golden Lions to clinch a riveting 31-28 win in the Currie Cup final in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The result saw the Cheetahs lift the Currie Cup for the sixth time and a first since 2016. And it was the perfect send off for Smith in his last game in charge of the team. The 47-year-old will take up a position as head coach of Italy after World Cup.
‘It is always an excellent feeling to win the Currie Cup,’ Smith exclaimed. ‘It is a real privilege to finish as the champions.’
‘We started building again last year after several players left, and there is currently a dream at the union to win the Currie Cup and Pro14 in one season. The players worked very hard for this and all credit to them.’
Smith was full of praise for the fighting spirit shown by his charges, especially in the second half when the Lions sparked to life.
‘It was an excellent first half, but we ended up fighting to stay in the game. But I am very proud of the guys for hanging in for the win.’
He also expressed his wish for the Currie Cup to remain an integral and important part of the South African landscape in future.
‘This is the flagship tournament in South African rugby, and I hope it stays that way. The #CurrieCupReloaded was a fantastic initiative this season, and it was great that the tournament was so competitive.’
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images