The five South African teams currently participating in Super Rugby could leave the Southern Hemisphere competition to form part of an expanded Pro18 competition, according to a report in the Republic.
According to Afrikaans newspaper The Rapport, this could happen as early as next year, in 2022 or in 2023 at the latest.
If the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers were to form part of a Pro18, either the Cheetahs or Kings would presumably fall out of the competition.
'I think the decision that all our South African [Super Rugby] teams play in the Pro14 next year has already been made,' a source, who is highly placed at a local franchise, told Rapport.
'Because of the pandemic, there are some restrictions on flights to Australia and New Zealand.'
Sanzaar's new broadcast deal, which runs from 2021 to the end of 2025, includes a 14-team Super Rugby tournament with four South African sides.
However, the suspension of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic has reportedly deepened the divide between SA Rugby and its Sanzaar partners at Super Rugby level.
There has been talk of a new Super Rugby tournament which excludes South Africa, with some senior Australian and New Zealand players reportedly in favour of this.