The Currie Cup competition received an extra serving of spice as it headed into the home straight this week, when Western Province lodged a complaint against fierce rivals the Cheetahs over the use of utility back Hennie Daniller.
Jan de Koning writes for Rugby365.
In what appears to be a ‘tit for tat’ move over the Wellington mud bath debacle last week, WP officials are now seeking that points be deducted from the Cheetahs which would allow Province to advance to the play-offs.
The WP complaint – backed up by a similar complaint from the South Western Districts Eagles – relates to the fact that Daniller played for the Cheetahs against the Falcons on a Friday night and the Griffons against the Eagles the following day.
The two unions content that this is an abuse of the loan system in which Currie Cup (Premier Division) teams can make available players to First Division teams.
Although Daniller is indeed allowed to play for both teams – as the South African Rugby Union (SARU) President’s Council have ruled that the Currie Cup and First Division are two separate competitions – it is the frequency with which players are allowed to move between these teams that are now a bone of contention.
As a result WP have asked that the Cheetahs be docked points for “illegal” use of a player and similarly the Eagles have asked that the Griffons be stripped of the points they earned when using the player.
In both cases it will have far-reaching affects.
The Cheetahs and Western Province are in a race for a place in the Currie Cup semifinals and a single bonus point could make the difference between reaching the play-offs and watching from the sidelines.
Should the Cheetahs be docked the five points they earned for beating the Falcons, they will drop back into fifth place and leave WP needing just a single bonus point from their final league match against the Lions on Saturday to advance … at the expense of the Cheetahs.
The Eagles and Griffons have been locked in a battle for a top-two finish in the First Division, which carries with it the chance to play in a promotion/relegation series to advance to the Currie Cup (Premier Division) next year.
Should the Griffons be docked points, the Eagles will advance to the promotion/relegation series.
As it is, the eagles and Griffons face each other in the First Division semifinal this coming weekend, although that result will have no bearing on which team advances to the promotion/relegation series. That is why the Eagles are so keen to have the points taken away from the Griffons.
In the case of Province, it is not just about the semifinals, but also pay-back for the Cheetahs, who complained bitterly when WP officials tried to move their game against Boland Cavaliers from Wellington to Newlands last week.
The Cheetahs insisted that the proper protocol and regulations be followed, which resulted in the game being played in the Wellington mud bath and as a result WP failed to get a much needed bonus point, which would have given them an edge in the play-off race.
Now Province officials are turning to the law book to ensure the Cheetahs get their own back.
SARU Chief Executive Johan Prinsloo has confirmed that the matter was receiving “urgent” attention.
SARU’s legal department have requested a response from the Cheetahs, which they hope to receive on Wednesday – after which a ruling will be made.Tweet