Billy Stickland/INPHO The Stormers in action against the British and Irish Lions.
# ultimatum
SA Rugby boss threatens to replace Stormers with Cheetahs in URC amid financial issues - report
Meanwhile, Ruan Pienaar will play in next season’s URC one way or another after the Cheetahs and the Sharks signed a cooperation agreement.

SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY Union president Mark Alexander has reportedly threatened to boot the Stormers out of the United Rugby Championship and replace them with former Pro14 franchise the Cheetahs due to ongoing problems within the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU).

With just over a fortnight to go until kick-off in the new-look URC competition, Rugby365′s Jan de Koning reported on Wednesday that Alexander made a direct call to WPRFU boss Zelt Marais regarding his provincial union’s perpetual financial controversies and infighting.

Alexander made clear that the Stormers would be removed from the tournament if Marais and the WPRFU are unable to get their house in order, per De Koning’s Rugby 365 report.

Western Province are expected to hold a number of emergency meetings in the coming days, although it is not clear if Alexander gave them a deadline to meet his ultimatum.

Marais recently drew the ire of SARU for acting in direct conflict to the instructions of a WPRFU/SA Rugby advisory committee on which he serves.

Amid his union’s bid to solve its financial crisis, the WPRFU boss proposed that it use a different consultancy firm to that which was preferred by SA Rugby.

SA Rugby subsequently withdrew from and dissolved the WPRFU/SARU Advisory Committee.

A potential banishment of the Stormers from the URC would reopen the door for the Cheetahs, who played in the competition’s previous iteration, the Pro14, for two years after being removed from Super Rugby.

They were then kicked out of the Pro14 — or the URC, as it would later become — when SA Rugby parted with Super Rugby altogether, its four flagship franchises taking the South African slots in the URC.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was revealed that the Cheetahs and the URC’s Sharks have signed a cooperation agreement, as part of which they will exchange players.

“This step benefits both teams in terms of their game and financially and that the move is also in the broader interests of South African rugby,” a joint statement by the two franchises said.

“The Cheetahs and Sharks will make some of their players available to each other on request and when competitions do not overlap.

“The Sharks will also provide players to the Cheetahs.

“Some of them could even be made available for the 2022 Currie Cup competition.”

As a result, Cheetahs captain Ruan Pienaar and utility back Tian Meyer will be joining the Sharks on short-term deals. Pienaar will stay with the Sharks for longer than Meyer, however, and may once more get a chance to line out against his former employers, Ulster, where he remains adored by supporters.

“Both teams will benefit financially,” the statement continued.

“As they will not always be playing in the same competitions, they will be able to support each other in times of need and pressure.”

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