JOHANNESBURG – It is somewhat ironic that one day before a SARU meeting takes place to discuss the competition structures for next year, the Cheetahs will be fighting for their Currie Cup Premier Division status in 2019 when they face South Western Districts in a promotion-relegation match in Bloemfontein tonight.
The Cheetahs finished last in the seven-team Premier Division this season, having not won a game, while SWD won the First Division after beating the Valke.
The men from Bloemfontein were robbed of their best players in the Currie Cup because the “first team” played in the Pro14.
Cheetahs managing director, Harold Verster, said Saru’s franchise meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, would seek to find a workable solution to the Currie Cup and Pro 14 overlapping in future.
“The last two seasons have been tough on us. We need to find an answer to the competitions overlapping maybe one of them can start earlier in future, or we can have a pool system,” said Verster.
New franchises Griquas and Pumas are also set to be included in the Pro14 next year, to make up a 16-team competition, but Verster said there was still no finality on the matter.
For now, the Cheetahs will just want to maintain their Premier Division status and to do so they will have to get the better of SWD, who won five out of their six games this season.
Verster said coach Franco Smith would pick his strongest available team, despite the Cheetahs playing a Pro14 match against Cardiff last Saturday. They’re also playing again this weekend, against Munster.
“We’ve got a big group of players, who’ve trained together throughout the Currie Cup and Pro14, while the coaches have also worked closely together,” said Verster.
“It’s quite a balancing act with these three games happening over the course of a week.”@jacq_west