The PRO14 ex­pands SARU’s hori­zons ...

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

SOUTH African rugby will ben­e­fit from two of its teams play­ing in the north­ern hemi­sphere PRO14 com­pe­ti­tion and this will not come at the cost of ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships in the south, SA Rugby chief ex­ec­u­tive Jurie Roux said on Fri­day.

South Africa’s Chee­tahs and South­ern Kings will join an ex­panded PRO14 for the new sea­son af­ter be­ing culled from the south­ern hemi­sphere’s Su­per Rugby. They will take on clubs from Ire­land, Italy, Scot­land and Wales.

Roux said the move into Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion would not change SA Rugby’s re­la­tion­ships within SANZAAR, the group­ing of Ar­gen­tine, Aus­tralian, New Zealand and South African unions, who run the an­nual Rugby Cham­pi­onship and Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tions.

South Africa’s Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Storm­ers will con­tinue to com­pete in Su­per Rugby.

“We are con­tracted to SANZAAR un­til the end of 2020 and will be go­ing into a ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod again in the next two years,” Roux said.

“We have ben­e­fited greatly from the ri­valry against Aus­tralia and New Zealand and a fur­ther re­la­tion­ship is likely to con­tinue to be of great ben­e­fit to South African rugby. But join­ing the PRO14 ex­pands our hori­zons.

“But to not play in the south­ern hemi­sphere com­pe­ti­tion is un­think­able. We would suf­fer fi­nan­cial harm.”

Roux added that if there is a clash of fix­tures, SA Rugby will give pri­or­ity to the PRO14 over the do­mes­tic Cur­rie Cup, where the Chee­tahs have started their cam­paign with three vic­to­ries.

“We be­lieve par­tic­i­pa­tion in PRO14 will bring new in­tent to our rugby and it in­tro­duces sum­mer rugby to our coun­try,” Roux said.

Martin Anayi, PRO14 Rugby’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said they had been look­ing to ex­pand for some time.

Although the chance for the Chee­tahs and Kings to join the PRO14 only came up af­ter the teams were dropped from Su­per Rugby last month, it fit­ted into pre­vi­ously laid plans, he said.

“This is a ground-break­ing feat and a true first in world rugby as we will see north ver­sus south com­pete on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Anayi said at the news con­fer­ence.

“We sit now in an eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion where we have to try and do things dif­fer­ently and we needed to look at big­ger rugby mar­kets and spread across mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­ries. – Reuters

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