Dear Oom Harold…


Dear Oom Harold…

As a passionate Cheetahs supporter let me start by once more reminding everyone that a ‘supporter’ is called such as by definition it should be there for a team when times are tough – not just when things are smooth.  So here I am, offering my support in tough times.

Harold my concern is that the Freestate Rugby Union has alienated the rest of the Freestate province in its approach to the hosting of games, the marketing of the game and the scouting of new players.

I am from Bethlehem, which is but one town where a passionate support for the Cheetahs is being eroded by your unions’ lack of outreach and understanding of the costs involved supporting a rugby team. There are at least 10 more towns that will tell the same story and if counted together can add at least 5000 more seats to every home game.  People from towns like mine are happy to drive 3 hours to a game and return late at night; pay the fuel and toll fees and risk running into farm animals – if they feel like “their” team appreciates their support. But for the past few years it’s been the opposite. The Cheetahs won 3 Curie Cups in a row and saw full house stadiums and then you guys decided that you no longer care for the ‘platteland’ when it comes to marketing.

With the advent of the internet and the abundance of information around, not to mention the luxury of being able to see all the games live wherever they happen, your union must understand that the distance between Bloemfontein for me as a supporter of the Cheetahs is the same as the distance to Brisbane to support the Reds. I travel to my nearest pub to support both teams. So why do I still support the Cheetahs, who seem to throw games away willy nilly and especially on Saturday displayed a ‘don’t care’ attitude on the field?  No passion, no guts, and now even no enterprise! Why drive to Bloemfontein to sit in a half empty stadium and support a team who are now happy playing the ‘we are a small union’ card?

I ask myself when last has a Cheetah team played a game in Bethlehem? If memory serves correctly it was a Freestate development team (with a very young Jannie de Beer) who last represented the union in a town that’s widely expected to support the Cheetahs. Our rugby field is now owned by Freestate Stars who have done well to make it a proper venue. Why not throw us a carrot and offer to host a Super Rugby game here next year, instead of once more feeding the over-fed Bloemfontein crowd of 5000 who are spoilt for choice and as a result are taking for granted their easy access to Super Rugby games? Bring the game to us once every 3 years and I promise you we will make a bigger effort to get to Bloem, because it will feel like ‘our’ team again.

Marketing is one thing, but here in Bethlehem our players are more likely to join the Bulls or the Lions these days as the Freestate Union seem disinterested. You would rather bring in players from Boland than have a look locally, and so the disconnect between fans and the union grows ever wider.

What is the solution? A good start is to host one big game here in the next 2 years and to start marketing it right now. I will help with this. The second solution is for the union to negotiate on our behalf some great hotel rates and bus fares to and from Bloemfontein for those who purchase match tickets at venues outside of Bloemfontein. If my friends and I can jump in a car and stay at a proper hotel for R600 for the night (which currently is the rate per person per night sharing) then our trip will cost us R1200 and is worth doing at least once a month. We will stay over and contribute not only to the team but to the economy of the city. European teams do this with the Heineken Cup and it’s great to see thousands of fans travel to every venue to support their team. The Cheetahs maybe assume that your fans are all wealthy and can make the effort – but this is wrong. I have R500 to spend on the Cheetahs per month – it’s up to you to find a way to make me spend that money going to the stadium as opposed to going to the local pub and spending money that could be spent to keep the next Jan Serfontein at the union.

A kiwi friend living in Bethlehem remarked a while ago that he always gets the sense that more Bethlehem people support the Sharks due to the affiliation with Bismarck and Jannie and Francois. I look around me and cannot deny that you see less and less Cheetah supporting kids. Why would they if no Bethlehem players represent the Cheetahs and dad never travels to Bloemfontein to watch a game?

Embrace and reach out to the platteland and we will help you fix the union. Simple as that.

To summarize my solutions:

1)      Work to get a match played in Bethlehem. We are the financial trading spot incorporating Senekal, Frankfort, Vrede, Ficksburg and Reitz. We will sell 10 000 tickets to this game, guaranteed.

2)      Negotiate travel discounts and accommodation packages for fans travelling to Bloemfontein from platteland towns to make it worth our while to stay over and not drive home after the game.

3)      Make a concerted effort to sign players from these towns as opposed to merely looking at Bloemfontein schools and importing whatever else you need from elsewhere.

Kind Regards,

Brendon Shields

Facebook Comments


  1. Thanks for posting this Morne. Lets hope the union responds.

    Funny I just realized my avatar reading “the year of the cheetah.” Did I maybe forget to add the ‘going down’ part?

  2. and funny having spent the past 3 days pondering the issue I realized that Naka and Hawies cannot be blamed entirely and should not be replaced.

    Just this year they innovated by:

    Having Brussouw jump at 4 in the line-out. I am not joking you. The two props lifted this lighter player with ease and we secured every ball with ease. Genius. Boks should do this so we can play Deon Fourie at 7!

    Secondly the cross field kick by Sias Ebersohn in the game Saturday was truly spectacular. It did not result in a try but this type of kicking is the future. Totally unexpected and just the type of thing to keep the opposition guessing, especially if you have a JPP or a Basson contesting that ball.

    Coaches who still innovate should not be removed from the game.

    The problem is we dont make as much money as we can potentially generate and I hope I have highlighted this adequately.

  3. I fully agree regarding the marketing.
    Part of the problem is that the annual fat check they get from the TV networks, has led the administrators to believe they could neglect the game-day crowd. What they forgot was that because all the other unions get the same fat TV check, the game-day income is what makes the difference between being to afford top level talent or not.

  4. Reply to Timeo @ 7:27 pm:


    Yet its not big name players where the Cheetahs really suffer right now.

    Its competing with the likes of the Bulls and the Sharks who can bleed Freestate dry yet have those star players ‘stew’ through the junior ranks as there is plenty to choose from.

    At Freestate they pretty much have to make do with what they get – which used to be great as kids only left for bigger unions aged 20 or so. Now they are bought straight out of school, and is here where the likes of Freestate need all the funds they can get.

  5. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:12 pm:

    Yes there is clique and its something I have written about – but all things considered in a small town you need a strong leadership core if you want anything done.

    Its a lesser evil – the other one being a democracy where there is constant change in leadership etc.

  6. Well WriTTen Shields

    Straight from the Heart!

    SuPPOrt your points!

    BUT Contracting, or rather the lack of sensible contracting has played a large part in the cuRRent “state” of aFFairs.

    I believe that there is a huge lack of proper oversight in FreeState Rugby, and that there are numerous decisions Re Player management that CoachDrotsky have to take responsibility for.

    It sEEms that whenever he is featured in HuisgenOOt- so I am told- :whistling: it coRResponds with a drop of performance by the ChEEtah team.

    Havent bEEn to the Stadium this year, and wont be going until such time that the sistemic weaknesses in FrEEState rugby are sorted.

    Am I a “bad” suPPorter, aCCording to OOm Harold- 4sure…..

    But I have news for you OOm Harold, my livelihOOd do not depend on the fact whether the ChEEtahs play well or not-

    past experience teLLs us that your livelyhOOd doesnt either, and that is where the problem lies.

    Dont blame injuries, it haPPens to aLL the teams

    I did not sEE you voluntEEring that excuse when the LIONS had an extraordinary bad run injurywise during this years Super Tourney?

    Maybe because ChEEtahs benefiTTed and not ending last of the SA Franchises?

    SoRRy OOm Harold- its time to go….

    PS – Wi$hfuLL thinking! I know :shake:

  7. Got this from Volksblad Site, posted on an Article giving Naka’s views

    “Jan.Plank – Oktober 18, 2012 om 09:28
    Marnus die Cheetahs het nasionaal die vierde meeste (904000+) ondersteuners in die land. As dit nie genoeg is om vir enige ordentlike bemarker (lees ‘branding’) in te tap nie, dan weet ek darem nie. Miskien moet ons dalk die Sharks vra wat maak hulle ‘brand’ so gesog? Met dié ondersteuningsbasis kan ek nie verstaan dat ons nie genoeg geld het nie? Hierdie verskoning van te min geld, beteken net iemand (Grey mafia) beskerm ons bemarkingspersoon (nog Piet de Necker?).

    Verder probeer Nakkie (die Nar) nou al vir 4-5 seisoene (sonder sukses) Blou Bul rugby (skop en chase en stampkarrugby) speel met Vrystaat spelers. Ons ‘brand’ is hardlooprugby!!

    Nee wat, ek dink dit is tyd om huis skoon te maak na 12 jare van dieselfde (uitgediende) bestuur! En dit moet nie afhang of ons ons CB status behou of nie!

    ‘Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind’ ”

    At least the Coach tOOk responsibility of “his” decisions and the eFFects thereof.

  8. hello orakel,

    Hier stap ek vanoggend by die skool in en al die ouers wil weet oor my brief aan Verster!

    Min weet ek die local koerant het die artikel sommer die hele agter sport blad vol geplaas!

    Vir my is dit maklik. Nake en Hawies is nie so kak nie, maar hulle talent pool droog op want daar is nie geld nie en hull ehet nooit geleer om in die provinsie te kyk vir spelers nie.

    Die platteland het spelers en geld om die goeie Grey ouens daar te hou. mits die unie net ons weer betrek.

    Indien nie, noem dit dan die Bloemfontein Cheetahs en dan sal ons n ander span soek?

  9. Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 11:42 am:

    Ondersteun jou 100% in dAAi argument Shields, my familie in Bethlehem- (POUNd4pound the BIGGEST Sporting town in SA), voel presies dieselfde.

    Die “berAAmde” 904 000 ChEEtah ondersteuners is verseker “dalk” 50K Bloemfontyners- die res is versprei-so enige strategie wat om gaTTe op stoele op wedstryd dag “aLLeen” gAAn is klAAr tot misluKKing gedoem.

    Jy kan trAAi mAAr – het die ChEEtahs op die veld – aangepas die afgelope pAAr jAAr?

    Ons het almal – behalwe soMMiges- gewEEt na twEE seisoene dat die Ebersohns dit nie gAAn mAAk nie- tog ek sal grAAg wil wEET wat huLLe sAAm betAAl word- en wie die spelers wat grensgeval kontrakte kry se agente is.

    Ek stem 100% sAAm met jou versoek dat dAAr na die werklike ondesteuningsbasis uitgereik moet word.

    Ek kou langtaNNe aan jou voortgehoue ondersteuning van die afrigtingspan

  10. on an aside,

    die grey mafia is belangrik vir FS rugby – maar hulle moet net bietjie wyer kyk en daar moet iemand bo hulle wees in bestuur.

  11. Reply to Oranje Orakel @ 12:05 pm:

    ek reken hulle gaan nie veel doen nie behalwe om onder 19/21 coaches te skommel en Pote die Super span te gee.

    En ek dink wat rugby betref is dit genoeg.

    Dis die bemarkings deel waar die kak baie groter is

  12. Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 12:07 pm:

    Superspan moet ‘n coach he wat nie VS of Kwas afrig nie.

    Die StrEEkspan ding werk goed, as Pote Coach gAAn hy OOk die benefit na Griekwas to mAAk, dan kerm die ChEEtah spelers wEEr.

    Maak nie sAAk wie kerm nie- dit brEEk morAAl af-

    kry “n Coach wat wil goed doen in Super rugby- dit is sy enigste kans vir ‘n Bonus

  13. Reply to Oranje Orakel @ 12:12 pm:

    Ja en nee. Kwas het bo VS geeindig met baie minder guns. Ek dink die meeste van die ouens sal dit aanvaar dat Pote moet coach terwyl Naka en Hawies werk om die VS unie weer op die been te bring.

    Naka en Hawies is goeie coaches maar hulle kort dalk net perspektief en niks beter as n break om dit te bereik nie.

    Ek dink nie n buite-coach gaan die kultuur vinnig verstaan van die streek nie. Ja bring n buite ou in maar doen dit dan behoorlik en maak huis skoon en gee die ou 4 jaar.

  14. Die 5 bokke waarvan Naka praat is:

    Juan Smith (so die dokter het kak advies gegee)

    Brussouw (wat basies nooit kon speel nie)

    Coenie (fair enough)

    Strauss (fair enough)

    en wie is ander een?

  15. Shields

    Just this analogy

    Guy I know was contacted by the School (wellknown school in Bloem – not Grey)

    They informed him that his kid is not performing in Maths and he needs extra classes- with the number and fee structure of the person capable of giving the classes.

    He responds with a letter from an attorney

    stating that since the school have had the responsibility of teaching maths to his kid, and that he has paid schoolfees fro preschool – he will sue them for the said paid schoolfees if his kid’s mathematical prowness do not improve.

    Needless to say next term – his kid’s maths were sorted.

    And that in a nutshell, is the problem with Free State Rugby

    Excuses, Excuses, no remedial action

    the “dont woRRy the Consumers are dof, we wiLL manage them through Volsblad and play more “hys toe gAAn-na maMMa toe” next time” aTTitude of the Administration nEEds to be broken.

    Also taken into consideration that that Peet Kleynhans isnt there anymore- who is doing that function?

  16. Hoe goed is Mallet se Afrikaans?

    Nee grap sommer net, iemand soos Brendan Venter? (verstaan die kultuur, maar lank genoeg weg om nie meer in die politiek vas te val nie).

  17. Reply to Craven @ 12:37 pm:

    Brendan kan dalk werk maar hy is n groot ego, nes Ollie. Sal die appelkar omgooi en dan suffer die unie nog meer

    Reply to Oranje Orakel @ 12:26 pm:

    daardie “we are a small union” metaliteit moet UIT! Imagine net hoe klein die Brumbies was in 2000? Klein stad, geen rugby agtergrond, moes spelers kies wat nie goed genoeg was vir ander unies nie ens. Ons mindset is verkeerd.

    Self bejammering?

  18. Ek wonder al lank oor hoeveel geld SA rugby maak tussen al hulle provinsies, Super franchises en Bokke. As jy televisie, hekgelde, merchandising ens. alles bymekaar sit, hoeveel kan dit wees?

    Jurie Roux het SARU ge herstruktureer om kostes ens te bespaar, maar die vraag is as jy SA rugby in totaliteit vat, hoeveel geld is daar en is daar n’ manier om al daardie geld beter aan te wend.

    Die “collective” sal seer sekerlik n’ beter werksmodel kan wees as die huidige elke man en hond vir homself.

    Central contracting op sy eie is nie genoeg om SA rugby te plaas waar dit moet wees nie. Die hele model moet saamwerk, die 1ste divisie moet sterker wees, die enigste manier hoe jy dit gaan regkry is as SARU die hele lot saamvat en bewerk.

    Ek weet dit sal nooit gebeur want almal fight hulle eie fight en de hel met die res.

    Dus sal ons maar annvoeter soos in die verlede en maar altyd veg om die tweede plek.

  19. Reply to biltongbek @ 1:01 pm:

    doen jouself n guns en woon bietjie n heineken cup game in dublin by.

    duisende fans van die ‘away’ span stroom die stad binne – almal in replica gear en jackets en scarfs en hoedens. Toere word aangebied waar great rates gekry word vir vlugte, slaapplek, meal vouchers ens.

    In kontrak kan jy n home of away Cheeth hemp koop (vir selfde geld as n oorsese produk wat belaglik is) elke 5 jaar want dit verander nooit.

    Jy moet maar self in jou kar ry want almal het mos karre en groot moolah om stad toe te gaan.

    Kom jy daar is daar 3000 locals wat verveeld jou join en hulle speel 4 jar oue musiek. na die tyd eet jy n hot dog op n koue bun sonder botter en jy gaan huistoe.

    Live rugby is meeste van die tyd n moerse anti-climax.

    Unies voel n veer want hulle kry baie geld by Supersport.

  20. Reply to biltongbek @ 1:22 pm:

    die valke se bestuur was die ander dag in n restaurant hier op my dorp op tafel langs my. Ooms en tannies lyk soos iets uit Tant stienie se era met faktap ou sweetpakkies en meer grimering as wat mens in n leeftyd mag dra.

    Sonder om te judgemental te wees – ek dink nie die mense gaan die Valke n mega unie maak nie ten spyte van die feit dat hulle in een van grootste en rykste areas in wereld rugby is nie.

  21. Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 1:27 pm: ja, elke een beskerm maar s plekkie in die rugby kringe en voed maar elke dag hulle eie ou ego’s en slaan die kitaar net om daar te bly, daar sal geen progressiwe groei en verandering van sisteme wees nie.

    Die probleem is alles gebeur dan ook agter toe deure en die publiek het nie n’ idee wat daar aangaan nie.

    Tant stienie en oom servaas geniet te veel wat hulle doen, en enige bedryging word vinnig uit die pad gevee.

    Ek wonder nou net: daai koerant moes jou
    toestemming of RW se toestemming gevra het.
    Hulle is veronderstel om krediet te gee
    vir die skrywer en die webwerf.
    Eintlik moes hulle jou ook iets betaal

  23. Reply to Boertjie @ 3:56 pm:

    wat? nooit ou. nee ek het hulle ge-CC op mail na morne in die hoop dat hulle brief in briewe kolom sal plaas toe stoor hulle hom sommer op sportblad agter!

    Die mense in die staat is moerig jong

  24. Reply to Boertjie @ 9:08 pm:


    Ons almal verstaan die politiek- al dink ons OOk net so!

    Kort en die lank is, dAAr is systemiese probleme by die ChEEtahs- al vir lank, die spul wat in Charge is – al vir lank suKKel om dit te sort.

    Ons kan boekdele skryf OOr die forwardpAASSSes wat sekere van die top 4 spaNNe laat wen het- TMO’s het sekerlik klas gehad by BryceLawrence;

    Ons kan bewys dat beserings – nie sosEEr in Super rugby maar in CC ‘n moerse rol gespEEl het:


    dit is aLLes dinge wAArOOr VrystAAtRugby gEEn behEEr het nie

    Wat van die dinge wAArOOr huLLe wel behEEr het?

    Hoekom word dit nie ‘n bietjie gesort nie?

    Dan is “par” maw ‘n Semi-final spot in die DomestiCCtiFF, elke jAAr “n gegewe.

  25. Reply to Oranje Orakel @ 3:25 pm:

    Ek verstaan nie eintlik waarom almal so opgewerk raak oor die curriebeker nie. Dis ‘n glorie van die verlede. Die Cheetahs het heel goed gevaar in SupeRugby en die huidige Curriebeker kampioen het laaste ge-eindig. Hoe mis die mense die betekenis daarvan?

    As dit die Bulle was wat laaste ge-eindig het sou dit my maar min gepla het.

  26. Fynes

    Ek bly in Bloemfontein

    Ek ondersteun nie die ChEEtahs omdat dit cOOl is nie!

    Ek ondersteun nie die ChEEtahs om dat huLLe die mEEste wen nie!

    Ek ondersteun nie die ChEEtahs om dat ek geld mAAk uit huLLe nie ( of hOOp dat ek in die toekoms geld gAAn mAAk uit huLLe nie)

    Ek ondersteun OOk nie die ChEEtahs omdat ek nie na MRPrice Fleurdal toe kan ry/hitchhAAik om vir my dynamiteDuds te gAAn kOOp nie….

    Ek ondersteun die ChEEtahs omdat die mense wat ek more gAAn te doen mEE kry, almal net so brEEd gAAn smile, of so dikbeklanggesig sOOs ek gAAn wEEs!

    Is die CC iRRelevant….. nEE want ons klomp voKKers gAn nog vir lank die SuperSportTax betAAl en ons dink dit is cOOl as ons OOr “n nawEEk ‘n 120 jAAroue tradisie AAn kan dEEl!

    Is die CC nog stEEds die “ultimate” braGGing Rite?

    Watch mAAr die Provins Gevrete volgende wEEk en OOrdEEL self.

    Hoekom is ons gatvol?

    Sekere aspekte wat die onderbou moet vorm van ‘n uitmuntende en volhoubare rugby kultUUr in Bloemfontein- en die hele sentrale strEEk in SA, word jAAr na jAAr met ‘n aRRogante Ignore gekap.

    mAAr Oor EEn ding stem ek sAAm, second is first of the losers, mAAk nie sAAk waTTer kompetisie nie.

  27. Te oordeel aan die leë stadiums gister lyk dit vir my of die waarde van die CC besig is om kwaai te daal in SA.

    Nie dat ek nie ook so “pissed off” gewees het, as my span laaste gekom het, of happy as hulle gewen het nie.
    Frustrasie met die swak bestuur is verstaanbaar, maar mens moet eerder die Cheetahs oordeel op hulle SR seisoen, en daai een was nie so sleg nie.