European plan for Kings and Cheetahs

A new plan could see the Southern Kings playing in Europe’s PRO12 competition if they are axed from Super Rugby next year.

Former Southern Spears chief executive Tony McKeever says that would be the obvious solution for the Kings if they are left out in the cold.

It was announced recently that Super Rugby would be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year.

South Africa will lose two teams and Australia one in a revamp designed to make Super Rugby more competitive.

McKeever said if the Cheetahs and Kings were axed, he would propose the idea of them playing in the PRO12, which runs from September to May.

“I have spoken to new EP Rugby president Andre Rademan about this and talks are ongoing,” McKeever said.

Rademan was at SA Rugby headquarters in Cape Town yesterday where he had meetings with top officials about EP Rugby.

“We are at a very sensitive point of our negotiations. I cannot comment further than that,” Rademan said.

Earlier this month, Saru chief executive Jurie Roux spoke about the possibility of finding new markets for the South African teams cut from Super Rugby.

Sources said the idea of South African teams playing in the PRO12 had already been discussed by top rugby officials.

McKeever said he had spoken to PRO12 chief executive Martin Anayi about the possibility of the Kings playing in Europe. “With the size of the Currie Cup and Super Rugby squads, both the Cheetahs and EP Rugby could easily accommodate this schedule and start playing in September,” McKeever said.

The PRO12 is an annual competition involving 12 professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

“I have spoken to Anayi, proposing that he takes these two teams and rebrands this as PRO14,” McKeever said.

“Martin is a visionary who wants to expand PRO12 into new markets and grow TV audiences and spectators.

“This is a perfect synergistic way to accomplish that with South African Rugby.

“The addition of two South African Super Rugby teams would not only increase TV viewership but also on-site audiences coming to Bloemfontein and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to watch their teams play against teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.”

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