Super Rugby cull: Fear of failure choking Cheetahs

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:14

SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: The great Super Rugby cull has been choking up the Cheetahs all season.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith told rugby365 that rumours of a format change - which was confirmed earlier this week - had been weighing heavily on the shoulders of his players.

From the outset, the grapevine suggested the Cheetahs were one of the teams on the 'shortlist' to be axed when the competition is reduced to 15 teams next year.

Those rumours were confirmed this week when SANZAAR revealed that two teams from South Africa and one from Australia will be cut from the roster next year.

And the South African Rugby Union have started the culling process when representatives of the six Super Rugby franchises on Tuesday agreed to a set of criteria to determine which four teams will represent the country in the competition from next year.

The CEOs of the franchises and other committee members identified the areas on which the teams would be measured.
 
The agreed 'headline' criteria, which have been weighted, include financial and economic sustainability; a sustainable support base; team performance; and stadium and facilities.

SARU will collate the applicable data to prepare a recommendation to go back to the franchise committee, to make a decision on the final four teams.

However, the uncertainty - whether they will face the axe or not - will continue to hover over the Cheetahs, ahead of their Round Eight encounter with the Chiefs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"From the outset, when the rumours started that we could be kicked out of Super Rugby, we have sat with this 'gorilla' [monkey on the back]," Smith told rugby365.

"It has affected the spontaneity of the players on the field, their creativity.

"Sometimes they tried too hard and try to make the correct decision, instead of just making a decision."

Smith said it is an issue they have had to face for weeks and the players are busy dealing with it.

"It will remain a tough issue to deal with, but I feel the players will believe they can rise above it and express themselves on the field.

"Hopefully we will have set that aside when we run out against the Chiefs.

"We will work on ensuring it doesn't add to the pressure.

"We want to go out and make our supporters proud."

By Jan de Koning
@kings365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10