Chee­tahs, Kings con­firmed for Pro14 com­pe­ti­tion

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

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 yes­ter­day 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 joines 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). “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.

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