Radical Proposal Put Forward For Two Super Rugby Franchises To Join The PRO12
As part of the new Super Rugby restructure, South Africa is set to lose two franchises.
The southern hemisphere tournament is set to be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year, with South Africa losing two sides and Australia losing one.
As a result a radical proposal has now been put forward for two South African franchises to join the Guinness PRO12 from next season. The two teams expected to get the cut are the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
PRO12 organisers have been looking to expand the competition for some now to bring in additional TV revenue and create a conference system which would enable most games to be played outside the Test window. There has been talks in recent months of two American franchises potentially joining.
Former Southern Spears chief executive Tony McKeever has already spoken to PRO12 CEO Martin Anayi about bringing the franchises in. He agrees the Cheetahs and Kings should be dropped but would like to see them both enter the PRO12, rebranding the Kings as Eastern Province Rugby.
I have already engaged the PRO12 CEO Martin Anayi and proposed he take these two teams and rebrand this as PRO14 and let the Cheetahs and Eastern Province Rugby be a part of this tournament, which starts in September,” he told Sport24.
“Martin is a visionary and seeks to expand PRO12 into new markets and grow the PRO12 TV audiences and spectators. This is a perfect synergistic way to accomplish that with South African Rugby.”
“With the size of the current Currie Cup and Super Rugby squads, both the Cheetahs and EP Rugby could easily accommodate this schedule and start playing in September 2017.”
“This would rejuvenate the PRO12/14 tournament with excitement.”
“The addition of two South African Super Rugby teams would increase TV viewership in Europe and South Africa and especially on-site spectator audiences coming to Bloemfontein and the (Nelson) Mandela Bay Stadium, to watch their teams play against teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, in this exciting tournament.
“It would be like the Cheetahs and EP Rugby each hosting six home ‘Tests’ a year.
“By doing this, SA Rugby would send a potent message to SANZAAR – that they are not agonising over this and are the first of the ‘Big 3’ southern hemisphere teams to break ranks and go north and let that be a message to not mess with us anymore.
“Personally, I think the PRO14 TV ratings will blow Super Rugby away and you might very well see a reversal of the exodus of players from South Africa and rather to these two South African PRO14 teams.
As the saying goes, ‘out of disruption, comes innovation’. This is the way of the future of rugby in South Africa and it is fitting that the Cheetahs and EP Rugby should be the pioneers for this evolution of the game.
“Certainly Harold Verster (Cheetahs managing director) and Rory Duncan (Cheetahs director of rugby) think so as well.”
What do you think? Could this work?