CONFIRMED: SA heading north
NEWS: South Africa’s top franchises will soon be heading north.
In a statement released on Wednesday, it was confirmed that “PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021”.
The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers are set to join the Pro14 competition – which would signal the end of South Africa’s participation in Super Rugby as we know it.
According to reports, the four teams above will replace the Cheetahs and the Kings to turn the Pro14 into a ‘Pro16′.
The axing of the Cheetahs are likely to cause a stink and it would not come as a surprise if the Bloemfontein-based franchise takes the legal route to protect their spot in Europe.
They were equally miffed when they were axed from Super Rugby in 2017 – along with the Kings.
The Kings’ demise in 2020 has already ruffled a few feathers – with SA Rugby declining to bail them out as they did in 2015, when the Port Elizabeth-based franchise went bankrupt the first time.
Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president, has stated at the weekend that extending additional credit to the Kings, an insolvent entity, at a time when the rugby industry was required to make a saving of R1.2bn to stay afloat this year was not an option.
“The history of the Kings has been one of expectation and anticipation but unfortunately the parallel story of commercial failure couldn’t be wished away any longer,” he said.
“The debts the organisation has accumulated over the years are considerable and in the current environment, the only certainty was that they would grow.
“The membership of SA Rugby has invested heavily in the Kings project but it is now time for a re-examination of what is the appropriate and sustainable pathway for rugby in the Eastern Province.”
South Africa’s SANZAAR partners, Australia and New Zealand, are in talks to form a Trans-Tasman competition in 2021 as a replacement for Super Rugby.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the 2020 season, NZ went on to form the own tournament called Super Rugby Aotearoa for their franchises and they were followed by Australia with Super Rugby AU.
SA Rugby recently announced their own revamped domestic season starting on October 10 called ‘Super Rugby Unlocked’ – which will run for seven weeks – followed by the Currie Cup.
Read Full Statement below: