Super Rugby

SA Rugby: Sharks, Bulls, Stormers, Lions lined up for move to northern-hemisphere

Jurie Roux (Gallo)
Jurie Roux (Gallo)

SA Rugby has confirmed plans to move the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and Lions from Super Rugby to join the PRO14, which will be expanded. 

The Cheetahs confirmed on Tuesday that their European future was over, with SA Rugby then confirming that the intention was for the country's Super Rugby franchises to head north. 

A statement from SA Rugby said that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) had acted through its 13 voting member unions - Border is currently suspended - to resolve that the move happen. 

The general meeting, which SA Rugby said was the highest authority in rugby, also rejected the option of keeping the PRO14 in its current state and leaving the southern hemisphere franchises to seek other competition. 

SA Rugby said it would now engage with PRO Rugby on the way forward.

The statement also confirmed talks of a southern hemisphere, Sanzaar-backed product that would see the Cheetahs punted as the first South African representation. 

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had been a factor in the decision, as had New Zealand's own plans to proceed with a trans-Tasman, Australasian version of Super Rugby. 

Roux said that New Zealand’s decision had made it "impossible" to continue with Super Rugby in its present form. 

"Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere," said Roux.

The meeting also committed SA Rugby to two premier South African domestic competitions, including the 2021 Currie Cup.

They are:

- SA Cup (working title): All unions (14) will be divided into two pools on historic log standings and contest a single-round competition to identify eight teams for a knockout stage of quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

- Currie Cup: The four mooted PRO Rugby Championship franchises plus the top four non-franchise qualifiers from the SA Cup would contest the Currie Cup Premier Division over a double-round with semi-final and final. The bottom six SA Cup teams contest the Currie Cup First Division in a single-round competition before semi-final and final. 

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander, meanwhile, said that "we needed to take radical steps to avoid financial meltdown because of the Covid-19 crisis."

Roux confirmed that SA Rugby and the Springboks remained committed to the Rugby Championship, and the formation of a 'Super Series' where, hopefully, the Cheetahs will have a new home. 

The Cheetahs and Kings joined the then-PRO12 in 2017 when the tournament was expanded to a PRO14.

Both franchises had been booted out of Super Rugby. 

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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