Cheetahs, Kings make Pro 12 deal
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.
The bbc.comare 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.