SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has allegedly officially informed local franchise bosses that South African teams will break away from Super Rugby to compete in an expanded PRO16 competition.
According to Sport24, Roux made the announcement at the SA Rugby’s general council meeting on Friday, when he also confirmed that only four South African franchises are likely to gain admission to participate in the European tournament.
While the four teams to represent the country in the PRO16 are yet to be identified, it is 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 Super Rugby in 2017.
‘The presensation was professional and succinct,’ a source told Sport24.
‘To be honest, there weren’t any new revelations. The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the rugby landscape and it was made pretty clear that demand for South African participation in a cross-border tournament would probably have to be limited to four teams.’
But it is believed SA Rugby could find itself embroiled in a legal battle if it does ax the Cheetahs, because the Free State union is contracted participate in the PRO Rugby tournament until 2023.
It is for that reason that Roux and SA Rugby are exploring the possibility of having five active franchises.
‘The door isn’t shut on five teams but the headache, as we know, is finding a tournament for the fifth franchise,’ another general meeting attendee confirmed.
Another general meeting is scheduled for next month, where shareholders will vote on the issue, but according to reports circulating in the United Kingdom, PRO Rugby could make an official announcement about the future of the competition before then.
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