Tommy Dickson/INPHO Action from the game between Leinster and Toyota Cheetahs in February.
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Pro14 confirm expansion talks to include high-profile South African teams
However, there won’t be any South African involvement in the new season until 2021 at the earliest.

PRO14 RUGBY HAS confirmed that it has begun discussions with SA Rugby about a possible future expansion to include more South African teams.

That could pave the way for the high-profile Stormers, Lions, Sharks, and Bulls – who have been playing in Super Rugby – to participate in regular competition with the Irish provinces, as well as the Italian, Scottish, and Welsh sides.

Pro14 Rugby also confirmed that the existing South African franchises, the Cheetahs and Kings, will not feature in the opening half of the new 2020/21 Pro14 season, which is due to get underway in two weekends’ time.

That is due to travel restrictions in the case of the Cheetahs, while the Kings have withdrawn due to their crippling financial situation.

Pro14 Rugby and SA Rugby hope that South African teams will be able to join the season in 2021 using a replacement team from South Africa’s current professional franchises in place of the Kings.

Fixtures for the 2020/21 season of the Pro14, which will feature only 12 teams until 2021, are due to be announced today. 

Pro14 Rugby’s statement in full reads:

“On 25 August, Pro14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness Pro14 fixtures until 2021.

“Pro14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.

SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness Pro14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

“Additionally, both Pro14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”

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