PRO14 will replace liquidated Kings
PRO14 rugby bosses have confirmed that they are in talks to include more SA teams in their league and to also find a replacement side for the Southern Kings.
The Cheetahs and Kings have competed in the competition since 2017, though the Port Elizabeth side will be replaced in 2021 after being put into liquidation by SA Rugby.
In a statement, PRO14 said: “SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are ongoing about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.
“Additionally, both 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.”
There has been widespread speculation that SA Rugby are looking for a new home for the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers now that their continued existence in Super Rugby is in doubt.
The Cheetahs and Kings have been forced to withdraw from the 2019/2020 season due to travel restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said previously his union was looking at options outside of Super Rugby for its domestic teams.
Talk of moving away from playing Australasian and Argentine teams in favour of European opposition has been mooted for some time.
“Ultimately, we can’t project what rugby will look like in years to come, and to do that would be very bold and brave because the only thing you can be sure of is that there will be change,” Roux said.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job not to look at Plan B or Plan C,” Roux said.
The attraction of Europe to SA Rugby is its lucrative television market, similar time zone and ease of travel that will help with player welfare.
The PRO14 contains teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, SA and Italy.
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