Chief executive Martin Anayi believes the Pro14 is well on the way to becoming the ‘best club competition in the world’.
The introduction of the Cheetahs and Kings to the tournament has been seen as a positive, while Anayi suggested at the launch of the new season that the Pro14 was continuing to go from strength to strength.
‘Off the field, we have made a big stride to close the gap to those competitions in France and England from a commercial point of view. I absolutely believe that [the Pro14] will be, if it is not already on certain metrics, the best competition in the world.
‘The financial metrics are one element of how you judge success. There is also the quality of the games. The fact that we are cross-border, that we deliver so many international players to the Test teams and the British & Irish Lions; all of that gives us confidence that we are making great strides.’
The Cheetahs reached the playoffs in their debut season, and coach Franco Smith said they were excited to test a new group of players in the upcoming campaign.
‘It’s unfortunate to lose a lot of experience [in players who have left], but fortunately this is only the second season in the Pro14 and we have high standards. We might unearth some new players who have been developed in the Pro14 mindset, as opposed to Super Rugby.’
The Cheetahs will face Irish club Munster in their season-opener on Saturday, while the Kings are set to face Zebre in Italy.
Photo: Mark Lewis/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images