The four South African Super Rugby sides – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – are set to join Europe’s Pro14 competition by early next year, according to a report by The Daily Telegraph, which revealed all four teams are looking for a competition to play in following the suspension of Super Rugby in March.
The Telegraph reports that SARU chief executive Jurie Roux was “enthusiastic” about such a proposal after having already engaged in informal discussions with his Pro14 counterpart Martin Anayi.
This comes after SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos conceded the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively crushed any hope of the current Super Rugby format continuing with New Zealand and Australia in negotiations to form their own competition to kick off next year.
The four South African Super Rugby teams would then be left without a league to partake in but it looks as if a move North is even more likely now.
“The four Super Rugby sides are effectively looking for a tournament to play in,” a Telegraph insider said.
“In terms of time zones, availability and the quality of competition, the Pro14 is the only realistic option.”
Should the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers join the new expansion of the Pro14 to the Pro18, they would join fellow South African franchises the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings in a competition that also features four teams from Ireland and Wales, and two each from Scotland and Italy.
The Telegraph states that the trial of having South African sides in a European competition “has already worked well”, highlighting the lack of jet lag and cheaper travel to Britain compared to Australasia and Argentina as positives.