Vodacom United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi has dismissed talk that a possible ‘B Division’ for the competition to include the Cheetahs could be formed next season.
This comes after coach Hawies Fourie said the Cheetahs were hopeful of receiving further clarity at the end of the month over their potential participation in a Shield Series of the URC.
The Free State side has been in limbo since they were excluded from the PRO14 two years ago along with the now-extinct Southern Kings franchise.
While the Cheetahs have been actively searching for a European competition to join, they were also left out when the Sharks, Stormers, Vodacom Bulls and Lions joined the PRO14 to form the new URC.
Since then, the Cheetahs have been left without an international competition, only competing on the domestic front in the Currie Cup.
During a virtual briefing with journalists, Anayi dismissed the idea of the Cheetahs joining the tournament.
“No, it’s not on the cards,” said Anayi. “We have a job on our hands to make sure the URC is as good as it can possibly be and we are getting there.”
Anayi added that the URC organisers are focused on making the competition as strong as it can be by improving some of the struggling Welsh and Italian teams.
“We are just focusing on the 16 teams we have. Our job is to help the teams that have struggled this season, like the Dragons and Zebre, to get better. That might be new funding, whichever way we can help them to get better. But relegation isn’t on the cards.
“We have contracts with each of our teams. It’s a closed league, effectively. It’s there to make sure those teams can be sustainable and invest in getting better without the fear of being relegated to an unknown competition. It’s a little bit different to the situation in France and England. There isn’t an established division below us. There’s nowhere to go for those teams to be relegated.”
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