Kings And Cheetahs About To Look North?

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6 July 2017

The fate of the two South African Super Rugby franchises earmarked to be ejected from next year’s competition, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings will be confirmed tomorrow (Friday 7th July) by a meeting of the SA Rugby council. What may also become clearer is whether the two are likely to switch focus and compete in the PRO12 league about to start this September.

Reports suggest that PRO12 administrators would welcome the addition of the teams on conditions including a minimum guaranteed payment of up to £800k (€910k) per team per year and a strengthening of playing squad quality. If the SA teams are to participate in this year’s PRO12 then time pressure would require some quick decisions.

The Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs and Southern Kings from Port Elizabeth are the least successful of the countries six regional teams in terms of on and off-pitch performance. The Kings first competed in Super Rugby in 2016. The travel logistics won’t be anything new, but the reason for cutting the sides in the first place was plummeting TV viewers and sponsorship revenue to match.

According to South African research firm Rapport, SuperSport’s South African viewership of Super Rugby games dramatically decreased in 2016. At that point, viewership figures had decreased by 3.8 million viewers compared to the same stage four years previously. TV viewership also decreased in Australia and New Zealand, but not nearly as much as in South Africa.

Attendance figures at stadiums were also decreasing, with

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