Super Rugby axe would 'kill' Free State rugby

    2017-03-17 17:05

    Cape Town - Cheetahs captain Francois Venter believes the Bloemfontein-franchise deserves to retain its Super Rugby status.

    Recent media reports have indicated that the Super Rugby competition could be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year.

    South Africa could reportedly lose two teams, with the Cheetahs and Southern Kings - South Africa’s worst performing franchises - possibly axed from the tournament.

    Venter, however, has called on SANZAAR bosses to not exclude the Cheetahs.

    “The Free State is a central and essential province within South African rugby. The production line of talent has been immense over the years and taking the Cheetahs out of Super Rugby would kill Free State rugby,” Venter said in an exclusive interview with Sport24.

    “We can only do our talking on the field and hopefully we can make a statement this year so that there will be no reason to exclude us from Super Rugby. Every player in the Free State wants to be part of this competition and play against the best talent week-in and week-out. I don’t mind if the administrators want to restructure the competition but the bottom line is that I don’t want us to be cut from Super Rugby.”

    Venter believes they are building a strong team under the guidance of head coach Franco Smith.

    “I’m really enjoying my rugby in Bloemfontein and we are creating a winning culture with coach Franco Smith at the helm. At the Cheetahs, we produce an exciting brand of rugby and the players and coaches will always work hard in order to remain competitive. There is no doubt that taking away the right to compete in Super Rugby will represent a significant challenge for any South African province. The organisers of the competition are clearly trying to make the numbers add up but, from my point of view, it would equate to a greater loss than a gain by eliminating certain Super Rugby franchises.”

    Venter, who has been sidelined this year with an ankle injury, is set to return to the Cheetahs match-day squad next week.

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