April 24, 2017

SARU breaks silence on rugby debacle

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Facing the axe … The Toyota Cheetahs are expected to be dropped from the 18-team Super Rugby competition with effect from next year

Facing the axe … The Toyota Cheetahs are expected to be dropped from the 18-team Super Rugby competition with effect from next year

The rugby governing body wants the long standing decision to be made once and for all

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has finally broken its silence on the on-going Super Rugby debacle, saying the decision to have two teams dropped from the tournament will soon be made.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Saru CEO Jurie Roux said he wanted the execution to be ‘done and dusted’.

“Australia are about to announce which of their five teams will be cut (probably the Rebels or Forces) and we must do the same soon,” Roux said on Monday.

“I don’t want us to faff around…I’m going to push for a decision to be made because we cannot afford to have further postponement.”

The Cheetahs and the Kings are the two South African teams in the firing line as Super Rugby reverts back to a 15-team format next year.

Australia will lose one team too while New Zealand will continue to have five teams in the competition. Japan’s Sunwolves and Argentina’s Jaguares are guaranteed their places in the three-conference system competition
There will be a franchise meeting where the criteria for dropping teams will be discussed.

“My plea is that decisions taken will not be political or emotional. I want everyone to know what is going on, so we’re not accused of stalling,” he said in the statement, further calling for a decision to be made in August or September.

Roux admitted dropping two franchises from Super Rugby would have far reaching implications but he said it was essential for the economic sustainability of rugby in this country.

“We’re talking about people’s livelihoods but we can sort out contracts, maybe develop an alternative competition for them, but the reality is we cannot sustain six super rugby teams
“It’s high time we took the tough decisions in the interest of South African rugby. We as elected officials, are paid to make the right decisions at the right time and this is the time for those decisions,” said Roux.

“Will people be angry, yes? Will they be disappointed, yes?”

Roux said that with rugby now having a global season, there was a good chance that the two cut teams as well as two more teams might play in other global competitions, perhaps in Asia or America.

“In an ideal world, we’d like to have eight full professional teams playing across the world but we still have to have our 14 unions, who’ll play in other competitions on a semi-professional basis. They are the heartbeat of our game.

“But we need strength versus strength in Super Rugby. Hopefully the Franchise Committee will talk about the players at those franchises who’re going to be cut from Super Rugby and where they might play from next year, because there are certainly players in those franchises who are better than those at some other teams.

“We need to keep all our best players in the country…Hopefully there will be an agreement that they get distributed across the country so that we have four very competitive teams going forward.”
In spite of a petition to have the Bloemfontein-based Toyota Cheetahs retained in the competition, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they might not be able to escape the axe come D-day.

In a statement released on Monday, the Cheetahs commented: “There is a substantial process that still needs to be followed before a final decision can be taken. SA Rugby said that it hoped it would be able to confirm its 2018 Super Rugby participants by the end of June 2017.

“These are challenging and uncertain times for all the Super Rugby franchises in SA. The Cheetahs are 100 percent committed to the process and we strongly believe that through an honest and fair process we stand a strong chance of retaining our Super Rugby status.
“In the meantime, we are looking forward to an exciting clash with the Chiefs. Our team is focused and ready to take on the Chiefs this Saturday.”

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