Pro14 a big lift-off or damp squib?

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 07:52

OPINION: We are just a day away from the official start of the new Pro14 tournament, but the kick-off may just be a damp squib. Jan de Koning takes a look behind the scenes.

There has been several high-profile launches, with much fanfare about the introduction of two South African teams to the competition - which, in its previous guise as the Pro12, already had teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

While there is much excitement in South Africa, it appears there is far less enthusiasm in Europe and other parts of the world.

rugby365 has reliably learnt that at this stage, with just a day to go, Pro14 rights haven't been sold across most of the world.

This include Asia, Australasia, the Middle-East and most of Europe.

It is believed the organisers, Pro14, are having real difficulties in Italy - as they haven't yet secured a host broadcaster for the games there.

This may result in them failing to meet their obligations to the South African teams.

And, to add insult to injury, the South African pay-TV station that specialises in sport broadcasting - especially rugby - have not confirmed their broadcasting of the Pro14.

The kick-off times for Currie Cup matches have been adjusted to make room for the matches of the two SA team - the Cheetahs and Southern Kings - but enquiries to the broadcaster have been met with a stony silence.

At the Cape Town launch of the tournament, South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux said the broadcaster wants to do its own launch.

It is just over 24 hours away from the kick-off of the first match and there has been no launch.

Will the tournament get off to a damp squib?

By Jan de Koning