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Big-name South African franchises set to join expanded Pro16 in April

The Bulls, Stormers, Sharks, and Lions will bring some world-class players with them.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi currently plays for the Stormers.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi currently plays for the Stormers.
Image: Photosport/Joe Allison/INPHO

THE FOUR NEW South African franchises are set to join an expanded Pro16 in April 2021 in what organisers hope will be a huge boost for the competition. 

The Bulls, Lions, Stormers, and Sharks are moving from Super Rugby to become part of the Pro16 from the end of this season onwards.

While the Pro14 has included South Africa’s Cheetahs and Kings in recent seasons, they have not been involved since the Covid-19 pandemic struck and will now be replaced by the four higher-profile franchises.

The42 understands that the Bulls, Lions, Stormers, and Sharks will officially join the Pro16 in April for the conclusion of the 2020/21 campaign.

With the likes of Springboks captain Siya Kolisi and fellow World Cup winners Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lukhanyo Am, and Steven Kitshoff on the books of the South African franchises, the new additions will bring some serious firepower with them. 

The IRFU has strongly supported the move to integrate South African’s leading sides as they believe it will make the Pro16 far more competitive. 

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“We think that by having those four strong South African teams entering our competitions, it will help develop the game in the Pro14, it will help develop Irish rugby, it will help develop Irish players by stretching us and by challenging our teams and also our players,” said IRFU performance director David Nucifora last month.

“I think that’s what high-performing athletes want, they want to be challenged.”

So far this season, the four Irish provinces have won 26 of their 28 games in the Pro14.

The South African sides have played in a domestic Super Rugby Unlocked competition in 2020, while the Currie Cup is currently in action, with play-offs to be played next month.

However, the new era for South African rugby in the Pro16 is now set to kick off in April, with an official announcement expected soon.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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