URC door remains closed for Cheetahs – The Citizen

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In a blow to the Cheetahs, who have been hoping to return to competitive international franchise rugby, it was confirmed by United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi during a media roundtable on Tuesday that there is no currently no plans in place for a B division in the competition.

A few weeks ago, after a Currie Cup match, Cheetahs Hawies coach Fourie claimed there were advanced talks in the URC for a B division next season, in which he hoped the Free State team would be included.

Anayi, however, poured cold water on these claims, once again leaving the Cheetahs in limbo.

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“It’s not on the cards. We have a real job to do to make the URC as good as possible and we are getting there, so I don’t think so at the moment,” Anayi said.

“We love cheetahs, by the way. They are a big part of our history, so if we can help them in any way to find a competition that works for them, you can rest assured that we will.

Anayi also said there were no plans in place for promotion/relegation to be introduced in the URC as the aim was to strengthen the current 16 participating teams.

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“We have contracts with each of our teams, so it’s practically a closed league,” Anayi said.

“He’s there to make sure these teams can be sustainable and can invest to improve without fear of being relegated to an unknown competition.

“So it’s a little different from the Top 14 (French) with the Pro D2 or the Premiership (English) with the Championship. There is no established division below us, so there is nowhere to go for these teams to be relegated.

The Cheetahs will now have to go back to the drawing board to try and find a path back to competitive international franchise action.

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