Celtic Rugby issued a statement yesterday afternoon confirming that: “Advanced and positive discussions are taking place with the South African Rugby Union regarding the introduction of two teams into an expanded Guinness PRO12 Championship. Given the proximity of the 2017/18 season start, a final decision on this potential expansion will be confirmed as soon as practical.”
Celtic Rugby is the association of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian Rugby Unions, which runs the PRO12 competition from September to May each northern hemisphere season.
And, only if you are from another planet you will realise that those two teams will be the Southern Kings and Cheetahs, recently axed from the 2018 Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby championship which has been downsized from 18 teams to 15.
Speculation is that adding the Cheetahs and Kings will bring new broadcast markets and local SA media reporting to increase the value of the deal by an expected six million pounds per annum, on top of current revenues of 12 million pounds per year. Negotiations are also underway with clubs in North America and other parts of Europe.
A hammer blow may be delivered to the Suoer Rugby if rumours that two more of South Africa’s Super Rugby franchises move to the European competition when their contracts with the Southern Hemisphere edition expire in 2020.
Coming up for the Pro12 is an additional administrative headache – if they rename the competition to Pro14 they will find that that domain name (Pro14.com) is already taken!
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