Cheetahs respond to Stransky's comments
Cape Town - The Cheetahs have responded to comments made by former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky in which he suggests that they should be axed from Super Rugby next year.
Sport24 ran a story on Tuesday that quoted Stransky speaking to New Zealand's Radio Sport.
Stransky called for both the Cheetahs and the Kings top be axed from the 2018 edition of the competition as SANZAR contemplates a potential restructuring that could see as many as three teams lose their Super Rugby status.
Now, the Cheetahs have hit back.
In a statement released to media on Wednesday afternoon, the franchise called Stransky out on some of the issues he had raised in his interview, using quotes from the Sport24 story to combat his stance.
Full Cheetahs statement:
“Stransky said he hoped the Cheetahs and Kings would be axed, leaving four strong South African teams.”
More than a third of the way into the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby competition the Toyota Cheetahs are ranked in the top four of the South African Super Rugby teams.
“Financially they are not sustainable”
The Toyota Cheetahs are one of very few South African rugby entities to show a healthy profit in the 2017 financial year and are financially sustainable. As an entity the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd embarked on a five year financial plan and is realising better than expected results. Furthermore the only the rugby entity in South Africa to have a sold-out stadium in the 2016 season.
“They have very low supporter bases during Super Rugby," he said of the Kings and Cheetahs.
2016 Broadcasters viewership numbers show that the Toyota Cheetahs have larger viewership numbers than any of the Australian and New Zealand franchises. The Cheetahs combined total unique audience for Vodacom Super Rugby and Currie Cup measures comfortably within the top 4 positions in South African Rugby.
"They're in the middle of the country, they turn out great young talents but they are not places that can economically sustain a team."
The middle of the country, consisting of the Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, where the Toyota Cheetahs and Kings support bases are based, boasts 26% of the active rugby fans in South Africa. Further to that the Mangaung Metro Municipality is growing at a rapid pace with regards to transport and economic development contributing to the overall infrastructure development in South Africa.
"We need four Super Rugby teams that are strong, willing and highly competitive, so we can breed a winning culture and that can go right the way up, hopefully, to Springbok level."
The Toyota Cheetahs, the 2016 Currie Cup champions, are the conveyer belt for great young talent, coaches and administrators (Franco Smith, Neil Powell, Brendan Venter, Rassie Erasmus, Jacques Nienaber, Ian Swartz) and boast 10 players included in the 2017 Springbok training squad of which seven players are of colour further highlighting their contribution towards the transformation of South African rugby. By axing the Toyota Cheetahs from Super Rugby this conveyer belt will come to a grinding halt, negatively impacting South African Rugby.