Pro12: No 'formal' invite for Cheetahs
REACTION: There has been no "formal" invite to the Cheetahs to join the Pro12.
This is the brief response from the Bloemfontein-based franchise, in the wake of reports that they will feature in the Northern Hemisphere competition next season.
BBC Scotland reported that the Cheetahs have been approached by the Pro12 organisers.
"We have received no formal invitation," Ronel Pienaar, Manager: Strategic Communication at Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Limited, told rugby365.
However, she offered a 'no comment' when asked if there are any discussions in this regard.
Pienaar said the matter is "sub judice".
While the Cheetahs have thrown a veil of silence over the European links, Pienaar previously admitted to rugby365 that they have not given up on remaining in Super Rugby.
"The Free State Cheetahs are currently taking proactive steps to ensure their continued involvement in Super Rugby," Pienaar told this website last month.
"The board of directors at the Free State Cheetahs is currently negotiating with SARU in this regard.
"The board is confident that a 'strong case' can be made for the Cheetahs' continued involvement in Super Rugby.
"Due to the sensitive nature and importance of the matter, the Free State Cheetahs cannot comment any further on the matter."
BBC Scotland did not quote any sources when they reported the 'offer' and added that a Pro12 spokesman declined to comment.
The Pro12 currently comprises teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.
They have been looking at expanding, but a North American option is currently on the back burner.
By Jan de Koning