PRETORIA - It has finally been confirmed that the Cheetahs and Southern Kings will have a home after their ousting from Super Rugby.
They are going north and will now form part of the new-look Guinness PRO14 competition, which was confirmed on Tuesday with the competition set to commence in September.
While the Cheetahs might have bolstered their stocks with players from the Kings and the national Sevens side, the Kings could find themselves in bother with most of their squad from Super Rugby having been dismantled by offers from other franchises.
Captain Lionel Cronje has gone to Japan and flank Chris Cloete has joined Munster.
Furthermore, the Kings are yet to secure the signature of coach Deon Davids while assistant coach Vuyo Zanqa has left the franchise to coach the German Sevens team.
However, the Kings will be part of the new competition and are likely to loan players from other South African franchises to help make up their squad for the new venture.
The Cheetahs have kept most of their players from Super Rugby, as well as Springboks Raymond Rhule and Oupa Mohoje and Springbok tourist Sergeal Petersen, who are all rumoured to join the Stormers.
Regardless, the Cheetahs and Kings will form part of a two conference PRO 14 competition that will still have the 12 sides that were plying their trade in the PRO12 competition.
The two conference system will see the Cheetahs play in Conference A against Connacht and Munster (Ireland), Ospreys and Cardiff Blues (Wales), Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) and Zebre (Italy).
In Conference B the Kings will play against Scarlets and Dragons (Wales), Leinster and Ulster (Ireland), Edinburgh (Scotland) and Benetton (Italy).
| GUINNESS PRO14 EXPLAINED |
“This development is as significant as the launch of Super Rugby itself back in 1996,” said Saru Chief executive officer Jurie Roux in a statement.
“It marks the start of a new adventure for rugby in South Africa with a number of exciting opportunities. It will not be without its challenges in aligning with a competition in a different part of the calendar and in very different playing conditions; but it is also a fantastic opportunity for South African rugby to widen our playing horizons.
"We’re very grateful to PRO12 for opening the door to one of the world’s top competitions, featuring some of the game’s leading club teams. We believe the Cheetahs and Kings participation will be good for the competition.”
The Cheetahs and Kings will play in a league match format and the play-offs but if either wins the competition, they will not be able to qualify for the European Champions Cup.
The format is as follows:
- Each conference contains seven teams with an equal split from each union
- Every team will play every other team at least once
- Italian, Scottish and South African teams will play an additional derby fixture to even out the schedule (e.g. the Cheetahs will play the Kings three times)
- The PRO14 Final Series will include quarter-finals allowing the top six clubs to reach the knock-out stages (teams 1-3 from each Conference)
The top three clubs from each conference (excluding SA teams) will qualify for the Champions Cup while the team with the highest points total outside of those six teams across both conferences will claim the final Champions Cup place.