SA Rugby has confirmed that the Cheetahs and Kings will no longer compete in Super Rugby from next year.
Both teams have opted for a settlement with SA Rugby, and will now look to explore other international competition opportunities, widely believed to be Europe's Pro12.
The announcement was made just prior to a special general meeting of SA Rugby in Cape Town to formally confirm South Africa’s four participants in the competition, in line with a Sanzaar decision to reduce the competition’s participants from 18 to 15 teams from next season.
The Cheetahs decided on an amicable settlement with SA Rugby after the 'board reviewed the team’s future' and were said to be 'extremely positive about the prospect of appearing in alternative international competitions'.
'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 said.
'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.'
Meanwhile, the Kings have also accepted the opportunity to enter into a different competition overseas.
'It has been a rollercoaster ride for the franchise for a number of seasons, but 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,' EP Rugby president André Rademan said.
'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.'
It was also confirmed on Friday that the Bulls, Lions, Stormers and Sharks would be the four SA Super Rugby competitors from 2018.
'I want to thank the Cheetahs and Kings for the mature, professional manner in which they approached and managed this difficult situation,' SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said. 'The Cheetahs and Kings took decisions that will not only benefit them, but also SA rugby in general.'
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