Chee­tahs, Kings make Pro 12 deal

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

THE South­ern Kings and Chee­tahs life­line ply­ing their trade in the North­ern Hemi­sphere is gath­er­ing mo­men­tum with both the South African sides cer­tain to fea­ture in the ex­tended Pro14 com­pe­ti­tion as soon as Septem­ber.

Re­ports com­ing out of Scot­land con­firm that a deal has al­ready been struck with the cur­rent Pro12 teams and the two SA sides and all that is to be de­cided now is a new for­mat for the com­pe­ti­tion.

The Kings and Chee­tahs suf­fered what had seemed to be a fa­tal blow af­ter be­ing axed from Su­per Rugby af­ter San­zaar had de­cided to trim down the com­pe­ti­tion from 18 to 15 teams.

While the Aus­tralian Rugby Union are yet to make an an­nounce­ment on which of their Su­per Rugby fran­chises will get the cut, the Kings and Chee­tahs al­legedly vol­un­tar­ily chose to be the two SA sides elim­i­nated from the com­pe­ti­tion.

The cash strapped sec­ond tier Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion is re­port­edly set to re­ceive a ma­jor cash in­jec­tion, al­legedly in the re­gion of R101 mil­lion per sea­son for six years from Saru from a broad­cast deal.

The­mare spec­u­lat­ing that the Kings and Chee­tahs join­ing will see an ex­pan­sion of the cur­rent com­pe­ti­tion from 12 to 14 teams, with a two con­fer­ence sys­tem likely to get the green light, which will fea­ture four Ir­ish and Welsh teams and the two Scot­tish and Ital­ian sides.

It is pro­posed that teams from one con­fer­ence will play each other home and away be­fore play­ing each of the teams in the other con­fer­ence.

The top teams in each con­fer­ence will se­cure their place in the semi-fi­nals with the sec­ond and third teams in each con­fer­ence likely to fea­ture in play-off matches.

While the win­ner of the cur­rent Pro12 com­pe­ti­tion qual­i­fies for the Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup, it will be the same with the new com­pe­ti­tion, with the ex­cep­tion of the SA sides.

While the Kings will be los­ing a host of play­ers to lo­cal and over­seas teams due to their ex­clu­sion from Su­per Rugby, there are ru­mours that Saru could be able to ne­go­ti­ate loan deals for play­ers with lo­cal fran­chises to help beef up the Kings stocks for the next two sea­sons.

The Chee­tahs, on the other hand, have been able to hold onto most of their play­ers.

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