Cheetahs coach: Beware SA’s summer heat!

Hawies Fourie says conditions will have to be well monitored, with the seven-team local competition expected to be played through the summer months.

A near tragic incident involving former Springbok flank Juan Smith underlines how dangerous it could be to play the upcoming domestic competition in extreme conditions, Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie has warned.

Fourie recalled the Super Rugby incident 10 years ago when the Cheetahs faced the Reds in Brisbane in sweltering 35-degree conditions.

“After the game, Juan passed out in the dressing room due to heat exhaustion, and since that day in 2010 steps were taken that games played in such warm conditions shouldn’t commence before 4pm,” Fourie said.

The Cheetahs coach believed the conditions would have to be well monitored, with the seven-team local competition expected to be played through the summer months.

“This is the time of the year when it’s hot everywhere, from Bloemfontein to
Johannesburg to Kimberley, but especially Durban,” Fourie said.

“In Durban, with the humidity, the ball becomes like a piece of soap, so I imagine games will kick off at 7pm and 9pm to play it safe.”

Fourie admitted the future was uncertain, with speculation that SA Rugby was considering dropping the Cheetahs and the Kings – who had abandoned their 2020 season – from the Pro14 competition, instead sending the four Super Rugby franchises up north.

“We have a winning percentage of 80% of our home matches. Which Super Rugby side can boast the same record?” Fourie asked.

After reaching the Pro14 playoffs three years ago, the Cheetahes were well set to repeat the feat before the pandemic interfered.

“We had only two away games left against the Glasgow Warriors and the Kings, while six of our remaining eight matches would have been played at home where we boast a proud record,” Fourie said.

He believed the 2016 and 2019 seasons proved what the Cheetahs were capable of when they lifted the Currie Cup with full-strength squads.

“Before my time two years ago the Pro14 and Currie Cup squads had to be split, which asked tough questions,” Fourie said.

“Not even the Super Rugby sides, despite their financial back-up and large squads, can compete in two competitions with similarly strong line-ups.”

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