It appears that South Africans can expect major changes in the world of our beloved pastime, rugby.
This follows SA Rugby confirming, it will now be considering entering four teams into an expanded PRO Rugby competition, thereby moving away from Super Rugby.
This follows a special general meeting arranged by the South African Rugby Union on 29 September 2020, where the decision was voted on. The meeting also focused on retaining a place in a revised SANZAAR competition.
According to SA Rugby, the four teams to potentially make the transition are the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers — Four extremely popular and well-supported teams.
A statement from SA Rugby claims the decision was made by the 13 voting unions of SARU, during a meeting which was specially convened to determine international participation and competition formats in a COVID-impacted rugby environment.
Additionally, the new direction determined by the SARU General Meeting, which is the highest authority in rugby — has said it has rejected the option of keeping the PRO14 in its current format and leaving four franchises to engage in potential successor for SANZAAR domestic formats.
SA Rugby is now accelerating preliminary conversations with PRO Rugby to establish the way forward on SA Rugby’s representation in the competition. The PRO14 is a joint venture between the rugby unions of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.
The General Meeting also focused on conversations with SANZAAR, about entering a team into a modified “Super Series” format. Once the necessary arrangements have been established and agreements with SANZAAR are made, it was determined the Cheetahs will be proposed as the South African entry to such a competition.
Furthermore, Jurie Roux, the CEO of SA Rugby, said the COVID-19 pandemic and New Zealand Rugby Union’s decision to proceed with a domestic or trans-Tasman competition were all contributing factors to the recent developments.
He elaborated by explaining that New Zealand’s decision made it impossible to continue with Super Rugby in its current format.
“Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with the PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere,” said Roux.
A second decision in the meeting has also determined formats for two domestic competitions for 2021, which includes the Currie Cup. These two competitions are as follows:
- 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 a semi-final and final.
With changes being made to the rugby world, Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president, pointed out that if this had been an ordinary year, the special general meeting would not have taken place. However, he said radical steps were required to avoid a financial meltdown due to the COVID-19 crisis.
As rugby fans now look forward to changes, complemented with new tournaments, what are your thoughts? Share your views with us in the comment section below.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer