‘Serious Discussions’ Held Regarding North-South ‘Super 18’
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Any day now we are expecting confirmation that South African franchises the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will join a new expanded ‘PRO14.’ The two clubs are currently without a competition after being released from Super Rugby.
Former Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths was a leading figure in South African rugby before revolutionising the English side from 2008-2015, and believes that it’s only a matter of time before the other SA franchises join a northern hemisphere competition, likely when the current TV deals expire in 2020.
“In South Africa there has been a growing urge to play North-South instead of East-West. Firstly, it means easier travel and time differences, not only for teams but for viewers; and secondly, the growing riches in the Northern Hemisphere compared to the Southern Hemisphere mean their leagues are far stronger” Griffiths told The Rugby Paper
Griffiths says there was serious talks before the last set of television deals between Premiership Rugby and the South African Rugby Union and now that two teams have made the jump, a move could seriously be made during the next window.
“Before the last round of television deals, when Premiership Rugby renewed with BT and the Southern Hemisphere renewed with SANZAAR in 2015, there were some pretty serious discussions between Premiership Rugby and the SARU around South African provinces playing North-South competitions with English or French clubs.”
“There wasn’t the required incentive to make the jump before, but now the jump has been made by two South African teams into the PRO12 that might provide the impetus for the North-South concept to be expanded.”
Griffiths added that a ‘Super 18’ competition comprising of six English teams, six French and six South African would be the strongest in world rugby, with South Africa generating 75 percent of the tv revenue in Southern Hemisphere rugby.
You can read the full interview in today’s Rugby Paper.