Cheetahs and SARU settle out of court
NEWS: The Cheetahs and the South African Rugby Union have reached an 'amicable' settlement on their future and their departure from Super Rugby.
It was confirmed on Friday that the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings are the two teams to be axed from Super Rugby in 2018.
As was stated numerous times by rugby365 - including in our latest podcast - the Cheetahs and Kings are likely to join the revamped Pro12 (likely to be renamed the Pro14) as early as September.
The Cheetahs have opted for a settlement with SARU regarding their Super Rugby Participation Agreement.
The Cheetahs did not take part in the criteria process - set in place by SARU earlier this year - as they had an agreement in place till 2020.
However, the Board of the Cheetahs have decided on an amicable settlement with SARU.
This will allow the Cheetahs to explore other international competition opportunities, according to Harold Verster, CEO of the Cheetahs.
An announcement on those opportunities for the Cheetahs is expected shortly.
"The board of the Cheetahs has reviewed the team's future and is extremely positive about the prospect of appearing in alternative international competitions," Verster said, stopping short of confirming that they have already agreed to join the revamped Pro12/14 for the 2017/18 season.
"It will be an exciting challenge for our players, supporters and commercial partners and will be the start of a new chapter for rugby both in our region and in South Africa.
"Also, it will allow the Cheetahs to carve out a new and prominent place on the rugby map in South Africa as well as internationally," he added.
The announcement was made before a Special General Meeting of SARU in Cape Town on Friday, which will formally confirm South Africa's four participants in the competition next season.
The meeting has been called to determine SA's entrants to fall in line with a SANZAAR decision to reduce the competition's participants from 18 to 15 teams from next season.
The new structure will comprise four teams from South Africa, five from New Zealand, four from Australia and one each from Argentina and Japan.
Friday's General Meeting will continue as scheduled as SARU still have the constitutional responsibility to confirm SA's entrants in the competition.
* Meanwhile the Southern Kings said they will embrace the chance to explore new playing opportunities in view of the strategic SANZAAR decision to revamp the Super Rugby competition.
The new structure will comprise four teams from South Africa, five from New Zealand, four from Australia and one each from Argentina and Japan. SARU will confirm the four participants after the Special General Meeting.
The Southern Kings will explore multiple other international competition opportunities and an announcement on those opportunities is expected shortly.
However, as is the case with the Cheetahs, the Kings have been linked with a move to the Pro12/14 as early as September.
Andre Rademan, President of the EPRU, said: "It has been a roller coaster ride for the franchise for a number of seasons but there is now a clear and viable way forward for rugby in the Eastern Cape to build on the foundations that have been laid – particularly in the past season.
"We have enjoyed Super Rugby but the chance to test ourselves against different opposition in different conditions is a mouth-watering one. We are therefore not opposed to joining new competitions. With all stakeholders pulling in the same direction we can bring success and excitement to rugby in the Eastern Cape."