Pro16: Qualification idea gains traction

The possibility of the top four teams in this year’s Currie Cup qualifying to play in next year’s expanded Pro16 is reportedly one of the ideas under consideration.

SA Rugby on Friday held their general council meeting through Zoom, during which, according to Rapport, Cheetahs managing director Harold Vester suggested that the four franchises for next year’s Pro16 come from the top four finishers in this year’s Currie Cup.

According to Rapport, various members who sat in on the meeting said that South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus thought the idea was a reasonable option in theory. However, that would probably depend on the Currie Cup teams remaining at full strength with all of their Springboks taking part in the tournament.

If the revised Rugby Championship – scheduled to begin on 7 November – goes ahead, then top Bok players could only feature in the first part of the Currie Cup before having to head overseas for a quarantine period before competition begins.

While the four teams to represent the country in the PRO16 are yet to be identified, it has been widely expected that the Super Rugby sides – the Vodacom Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – will be the chosen ones with the Cheetahs and Kings, who are currently competing in the PRO14, likely to be axed in the same way they were cut from Vodacom Super Rugby in 2017.

Yet the Cheetahs are said to be willing to go to court to protect their franchise status. The Free State union is contracted to participate in the PRO Rugby tournament until 2023.

Adding to the complication is that SuperSport, an important partner of SA Rugby, is reportedly in favour of the idea of having the four Super Rugby franchises take part in the Pro16.

SA Rugby’s general council will vote on the matter next month.

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