Cape Town - Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) president Andre Rademan has admitted there is a possibility for them to join a European competition.
Rademan was responding to speculation that his union’s Super Rugby franchise, the Southern Kings, would lose their status in the southern hemisphere competition in 2018.
SANZAAR recently announced that the Super Rugby competition will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year, with South Africa losing two teams and Australia one.
While SA Rugby is yet to make an official announcement, the expectation is that the Kings and Cheetahs will be the South African teams eliminated.
Tony McKeever, a former Eastern Cape rugby boss, recently suggested in an exclusive discussion with Sport24 that the Cheetahs and Kings should join the PRO12 competition in Europe.
The PRO12 - which runs from September to May - is an annual competition involving 12 professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Rademan, who recently replaced Cheeky Watson as EPRU president, told Netwerk24 that they were exploring several options for their future.
He told the Afrikaans website that discussions with potential European partners have in the meantime been taken a step further.
“We are busy with sensitive discussions, but yes, there is a possibility,” Rademan said.
In response to McKeever’s suggestion, the Cheetahs recently said their first priority would be to fight for their survival in Super Rugby, but that they would explore other opportunities in a worst case scenario.
A statement issued by the Bloemfontein-based franchise last week read:
“The Cheetahs’ full attention, energy and focus is currently to maintain its position in Super Rugby - in the interests of our sport rugby in central South Africa.
“All possibilities will however be considered in order to maintain and promote the sustainability of rugby in central South Africa.”
The Cheetahs have in the meantime taken legal steps to try and assure their Super Rugby status. They believe their participation contract with SA Rugby assures them of Super Rugby participation until 2020.