Roux: 'Genuine interest' in PRO14

Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)
Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux believes that South Africa's participation in the PRO14 is being met with keen public interest.

Both the Kings and the Cheetahs will join the European tournament from this year, with the new-look competition getting underway on the first weekend of September. 

For both of those franchises, this is a way of staying relevant after they were dumped from Super Rugby at the end of the 2017 season. 

And while it can only be seen as a positive for rugby in the Eastern Cape and in the Free State, there are genuine concerns over the crowd attendances in both of those regions. 

While the PRO12 did not attract massive crowds, due largely to the limited capacities of some of their modest stadiums, the tournament bosses will be hoping to gain support in South Africa.

In Super Rugby this year the Kings enjoyed lively, if not massive, home support during their winning run, but attendance in Bloemfontein was disappointing throughout the campaign. 

In fact, crowds everywhere in Super Rugby have been disappointing this season, with many believing that the confusing tournament format has been a major stumbling block. 

So what will be different about the PRO14? 

According to Roux, the novelty of a new competition and new teams visiting the country will have an impact.

"We believe, especially in South African terms, that we've got to look at our product and how we put it forward," he said on Friday.

"That's not only about what we do on the field but what we do around the field in terms of the stadiums and entertainment.

"I do believe there will be some new interest ... it's not the same teams that you see playing here year in and year out.

"I think it's new energy, new teams ... old, traditional teams and hopefully people will support that."

Roux added that the time of year might also encourage more people to come to the stadiums. 

The tournament will run over South Africa's warmer months.

"It's a different time of year and will not clash with other international competitions," said Roux.

"There will be some clash with local competitions for the first year, but we will overcome that problem.

"I think there is genuine interest."

The clash Roux was referring to is this year's Currie Cup, and both the Cheetahs and Kings will be playing two tournaments at the same time this year. 

But Roux reckons that there will be no clashes with domestic rugby from the 2018/19 season.

While an official broadcaster is yet to be named, Roux confirmed that not all PRO14 matches would be televised in South Africa.

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