As the world’s best battle it out in Japan at the Rugby World Cup, another exciting season of PRO14 rugby is set to kick off this weekend.
When compared to the English Premiership and French Top 14 competitions, the PRO14 comes out tops in a number of categories, none the least in terms of entertainment value and number of players represented at this year’s World Cup.
The 2019-20 PRO14 kicks off again on Friday night when Currie Cup champions, the Cheetahs host last season’s finalists, Glasgow Warriors in Bloemfontein in a mouth-watering fixture that will give a new host of stars a platform to showcase their skills.
But in the age-old debate about which competition sets the highest standards and is the most competitive, the PRO14 comes in tops when it comes to less penalties, more ball in play and faster action as compared to its European rivals.
A massive 880 tries were scored in the past 2018/19 season, blowing the idea of a slower, more cumbersome game in the northern hemisphere out of the water as Irish powerhouse Leinster romped to their sixth Championship title in an epic final.
And when compared to the other Leagues there is no reason why the PRO14 needs to stand back, especially as it ranked first in the number of points per game (47.8), tries (average 6.2 per game), successful scrums (92.1%) and fewest penalties (20.6 per game).
Not only was it highly entertaining and smashed several new records, but last season’s ball-in-play lasted a massive 41 minutes 28 seconds, signalling a faster, more open and entertaining game where the ball flowed and not the stop-start affair some might think is normal in the northern hemisphere.
Cheetahs winger Rabs Maxwane topped the try-scoring tally, crossing the whitewash with 14 tries as he remained the stand-out winger at the Bloemfontein side.
The success in PRO14 continued to filter through to Europe, with the PRO14 accounting for eight out of 16 Champions Cup quarter-final places in the last two seasons and six Champions Cup champions since 2006. In South Africa, the momentum created by the PRO14 filtered down into the Cheetahs as they were popular Currie Cup champions, beating the Lions in the final last month.
And with 116 players in Japan at the World Cup, the competition stands head and shoulders above other leagues in developing stars on the international test stage.
The competition kicks off on Friday – without the World Cup contingent – but with an opportunity to see the cream of rising talent in the strongest European League showcase itself.
And in South Africa, a revamped Southern Kings side will be amped to make the most of it, while the Cheetahs – with the momentum of a Currie Cup crown, will want to make an impression first up.
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