Ricochet News

Southern Kings, Cheetahs receive Super Rugby axe

By Marc Jacobson - Jul 7, 2017
Southern Kings, Cheetahs receive Super Rugby axe

SA Rugby have confirmed, just before a special general meeting held in Cape Town on Friday morning, that the Southern Kings and Free State Cheetahs are officially the two axed SA sides for the 2018 Super Rugby campaign.

The competition will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams, in a rekindled tournament format, after much controversy loomed over Super Rugby’s complexity, country diluteness and drops in viewership and TV revenue.

The tournament will now be comprised of the five New Zealand sides, four SA sides, four Australian sides (their axed team still to be announced) and Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves.

The Kings, however, have accepted agreements with SA Rugby to enter into a different competition overseas, most widely believed to be the Pro12, a tournament currently amalgamating teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.

EP Rugby President, Andre Rademan, proclaimed that it has been a tumultuous rollercoaster ride for the Kings, but believes there is a promising way forward.

“There is now a clear and viable way forward for rugby in the Eastern Cape to build on the foundations that have been laid – particularly in the past season,” Rademan said in a statement.

“We have enjoyed Super Rugby, but the chance to test ourselves against different opposition in different conditions is a mouth-watering one.”

“We are therefore not opposed to joining new competitions. With all stakeholders pulling in the same direction we can bring success and excitement to rugby in the Eastern Cape,” Rademan concluded.

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs have agreed to a cordial settlement with SA Rugby with the board reviewing the club’s future and were also said to be somewhat positive on their future of appearing in a future international competition (also deemed to be the Pro12).

“It will be an exciting challenge for our players, supporters and commercial partners and will be the start of a new chapter for rugby both in our region and in South Africa,” Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster also said in a statement.

“Also, it will allow the Cheetahs to carve out a new and prominent place on the rugby map in South Africa, as well as internationally,” he added.

The news may break as bitter/sweet for the two unions, as northern expansion may be what they need in order to solidify the grounds to which they rope in players and accumulate revenue for future enhancement.

Not just for them, but for SA Rugby as a whole. Tapping into the northern Celtic markets may not only diverge SA Rugby in two spheres, but the taste of Euros can linger about for preventing the mass exodus of players.

Subsequently, many South African players are already playing their trade in the Pro12, and with homed competition against the likes of the Cheetahs and Kings, this may reel in European-based prospects too.

According to earlier reports, Washington DC Rugby are also linked with a move to the Pro12. The announcement for the Kings and Cheetahs involvement in such a tournament is to be announced in due course.