When we wrote last week that Free State Cheetahs were facing a weakened Glasgow Warriors we knew that the team had lost players to international duty but no idea how many. Hugh Bladen told us in commentary during the game: 16 – 12 to the Scotland cause and another four to other national teams.
And in the four previous encounters between Cheetahs and Warriors, the latter had come out on top every single time. This then was a perfect opportunity for Cheetahs to break their duck against this particular opposition – and they came out of the blocks like a Usain Bolt last Friday night in Bloemfontein.
So much so that Cheetahs had 17 points on the board before the visitors from Glasgow could score a single point. And the Warriors were always chasing the game from that point. Final score: 48-14, giving the home side their best ever start to a PRO14 season.
Similarly, Southern Kings welcomed a depleted Cardiff Blues outfit to Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon. However, Wales has more depth of playing resources than does Scotland, meaning the Blues had lost only six players to RWC2019: five for Wales and one for Samoa.
Even so, the home team was far from clinical and showed fans exactly why it is considered the weakest local franchise competing in international club rugby. Kings lost 27-31 to Blues.
Perhaps the off-field shenanigans around the appointment of a permanent coach is part of the problem. Whatever the cause, it was a terrible performance and, quite simply, piss-poor rugby.