In-form Cheetahs knocking loudly on URC door
Sunday’s win over a Sharks side full of Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks made a lot of people take notice.
Cheetahs fans look on during their team’s Challenge Cup match against the Sharks in Bloemfontein. Picture: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images
The Cheetahs’ fight to get into the United Rugby Championship (URC) gained massive strides with their courageous 32-29 victory over the Sharks in the Challenge Cup at the weekend.
What the win has done is send a powerful message to SA Rugby (Saru) and those who are in charge of running the URC operations.
The message is clear: the Cheetahs do belong in a premier franchise rugby competition because they can compete and they were hard done by being booted out of the URC.
Every game the Cheetahs play in the Challenge Cup is an opportunity for them to send a message to the powers that be, and they have grabbed their chances.
Their victory over Zebre in their opening match of the competition was a statement; their performance proved that if their Italian counterparts can get a seat at the table, they deserve it too.
Sunday’s win over a Sharks side full of Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks – including Ox Nche, Eben Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse – made a lot of people take notice.
The Cheetahs have the talent, and despite having a budget smaller than the Sharks, they went toe to toe with them.
‘We deserve it’
There’s unity among the Cheetahs and they are all speaking with one voice, calling on Saru to do right by them.
Loose forward Gideon van der Merwe, who won the man–of–the–match award against the Sharks, relayed the Cheetahs’ message to Saru.
“We work hard here, on this field every day in the sun; we give our best every single day to achieve,” Van der Merwe said.
“I think we have quality players to take on any side in the world. I think it’s time. We deserve it and Saru must give us our opportunity.”
The Challenge Cup is vital to the Cheetahs’ call to play in the URC, and if they keep getting results, their cry will be hard to ignore.