The Cheetahs have completed their 2012 Currie Cup season, and this will surely go down as the worst Currie Cup season for the franchise in the last 16 years. They ended bottom of the log after failing to beat Western Province, who received all their Springbok players the week before the game.
If I were to choose a team to play in the final round with returning Boks, I would definitely not have chosen the Cape Town franchise, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Well, now the Cheetahs will have to beat the best First Division team, the EP Kings in the coming two weeks, once in Bloemfontein and once in Port Elizabeth. The irony in this is that is no secret that the Free State voted against the Lions in their Super Rugby battle and voted the team they are facing now, the EP Kings into next years competition. Most Lions supporters would feel a small piece of justice has been served by the Cheetahs ending last on the log and fittingly have to fight for their place in the Currie Cup against the EP Kings.
One has to put your money on the Cheetahs though, but judging by their performances this year, the Kings might just stand a chance on confidence, the Cheetahs will have to make sure that they do not become complacent.
There is also finally a bit of a stir in the coaching box and we might finally see the end of the Naka era and hopefully see a Head Coach with some vision as well as tactical and defensive experience, maybe someone along the lines of a Cheetahs ex-centre, namely Brendon Venter. There will also be a meeting and a possible reshuffle of the top brass at the union, whether the Cheetahs win or lose says President of the FSRU Lindsay Mould. In his defence Herold Verster has lashed out against people saying the union is being mismanaged, but I cannot see how a big franchise with Grey College in their mitts struggle to hold onto players from a junior level.
It also deserves to be mentioned that the Cheetahs have suffered 16 big name injuries this year, but that is no excuse, they have to step up to the plate this Friday and had better win, if they were to lose the P/R game, they would be known as the worst Free State team to jog onto the field in the last 24 years…
Cheetahs forward coach, the legendary prop Os du Randt says there will be no scrum issues this weekend in their front row like they had last weekend, Kaplan will be blowing the whistle in the match again, but Os says they have tweaked some technical aspects of the scrum and should be a force to be reckoned with. Os also mentioned on Monday when he contacted Kaplan to speak about the scrum penalties, that the WP used their good old Sling-Shot scrum and if Kaplan sees it as legal, the Cheetahs will use it this weekend against the Kings.
There are a lot of big names commenting on the promotion/relegation game, and Frik de Preez makes a very good point, this is in Afrikaans so for those who don’t understand it, use the following link to translate:
Braam van Straten, old-Springbok, say it is sad that the Toyota Free State Cheetahs have to play in the relegation-match, but feels that there is no reason for the central team to worry:
“Die Toyota Vrystaat Cheetahs het in die laaste 20 minute teen die Westelike Provinsie bewys hy hoort steeds in die Curriebeker-reeks. Daar is geen twyfel dat hy die Kings sal wen nie.
Die Cheetahs is in ’n ander klas as die Kings. Hy hoef nie te kommer nie.”
Frik du Preez,rugby player of the millennium, feels the Cheetahs will beat the Kings:
“Vrystaat sal daai ouens (Kings) in hulle moere in speel. Wat is die doel van relegasie? Rugby het ’n professionele sport geword, maar die administrasie daarvan is nog in die amateur-era.”
Also Nelie Smit, old-Springbok én FS Coach, feels that the Cheetahs will be able to beat the EP Kings:
“Die Toyota Vrystaat Cheetahs kan beslis die Kings klop, as hy minder foute maak. Die span word geteister deur beserings, maar hy moet eenvoudig wen. Ek glo hy sal wen.”
Go Cheetahs!!!! Show these Watson jokes what real rugby is about!!