Axed teams could play two tournaments

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has confirmed the Cheetahs and the Kings could play in more than one European competition next season.

SA Rugby announced on Friday that both teams are out of Super Rugby after reaching a settlement agreement to explore other international competition opportunities.

All indications are that they will join the Pro12, raising questions whether the Cheetahs and Kings will then be eligible to compete in the Champions Cup or Challenge Cup.

Roux said on Friday that he cannot confirm which league competition the two franchises will join.

'Negotiations are far down the line and to be fair, we're never going to steal the thunder of any other competition in terms of announcing its future. I can confirm the Kings and Cheetahs could play in the same competition and they could also play in more than one competition.'

Roux said the Kings and Cheetahs were not forced into the settlement to exit Super Rugby in favour of a move to the northern hemisphere, and admitted that they were legally within their rights to contest their axing, but opted not to.

'I can categorically state that neither of these two teams were forced into this process. We have 14 members and engaged with each other. We've got a confirmed competition structure up until 2020 and in reality, all six South African franchises could have just sat, waited it out and “said we've got agreements in place and will challenge you in court”. But our members voluntarily made this decision.

'We are very grateful to the Kings and Cheetahs that have said they will rather endorse South African rugby in their strategic drive to compete in possible alternative competitions. It will be a possible proof of concept of whether a venture to the north is a viable option for South African rugby.

'We are making the right strategic move. Everybody is advocating that we should move north, because it is the same time zone and the flights are easier, but we've never had proof of concept.

'Having two teams playing in the north affords us the opportunity to look at our own structures in the spreading of our players. We can actually get our franchises to spread the players accordingly across the board, making sure we play our best players in the right environment.'

Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images

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