It is totally unacceptable that they were only informed at the eleventh hour that their game against the Lions at Ellis Park in the Super Rugby Unlocked series on Saturday had been called off due to Covid-19 protocols, said perplexed Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.
Having already made the five hour bus trip from Bloemfontein on Friday, Fourie said it was very disappointing news, and stressed proper protocol should be put in place.
“We were busy with our pre-match meal around 12.30pm when we got the call at the hotel. We would have had our final team meeting at 2pm and then would’ve departed for Ellis Park,” he said.
“It leaves a bad taste in the mouth that they came to the decision so close to the game’s start. I think in future certain structures should be put in place (to better deal with this sort of thing),” said Fourie.
He added it was incredibly expensive to make a journey to a city and then end up not playing and in his opinion protocol should be put in place where both teams are passed fit and healthy well before matchday.
“I would say at least 48 hours before the game in order for the team who has to travel to not lose a couple of hundreds of thousands of rands,” he said.
“For me it’s very poor that we received the news so late; four hours before kickoff. I don’t think it’ acceptable,” he said.
Three Cheetahs players – lock Walt Steenkamp, No 8 Jasper Wiese and centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg – would have played their last game for the team before heading out of Bloemfontein.
“They were obviously very disappointed,” said Fourie. “They desperately wanted to play one last time in the Cheetahs jersey and the team really wanted to give them a proper send-off.”
At this stage the plan is to reschedule the game, but if that is not possible, the Lions and Cheetahs will share the points and bank two points each. Fourie said it would not be ideal to share the points.
“But that’s what it is. Covid is part of our lives; it has disrupted our routines and I understand the protocols that are in place and the steps that were taken,” he said.
“One has to see the bigger picture and I understand the concern and the decision that was taken.”