The Cheetahs and Kings have officially been included in an expanded Pro14 competition, but will not be eligible to qualify for the European Champions or Challenge Cups.
The 14 teams will be divided into two conferences:
Glasgow Warriors (Scotland)
Cardiff Blues (Wales)
– Each conference will contain seven teams with an equal split of teams from each union
– Every team plays 21 regular-season games
– Every team to play each other at least once
– All home and away derby fixtures will remain in place
– Italian, Scottish and South African teams will play an additional derby fixture to even out the schedule (eg, Edinburgh will play Glasgow Warriors three times)
– The playoffs will now include playoff qualifiers allowing six clubs to reach the knockout stage (top three teams from each conference)
– The top three clubs from each conference 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
– South African clubs will not be eligible to qualify for European tournaments at present
In order to provide travelling teams to South Africa with the best possible preparation, games will be fixed for Saturdays. This will allow visiting teams to have a seven-day turnaround leading into these fixtures including five ‘clean days’ that do not involve any travel.
Flights between Europe and South Africa are overnight which will allow players to rest during the journey while training facilities and accommodation venues are up to the standards expected in Super Rugby.
For teams who are scheduled to play twice in South Africa, the aim will be for them to play back-to-back games on a ‘mini-tour’ in one round trip. Where the fixture list prevents this, games in South Africa for those clubs will be spread across a reasonable period of time.
‘This development is as exciting as the launch of Super Rugby itself back in 1996,’ said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. ‘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 rugby horizons.
‘This time next year South African provincial teams will be competing in 11 countries on five continents. We believe the Cheetahs’ and Kings’ participation will be good for the competition and good for the teams.’
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images
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