Ex administrator wants SA Super Rugby teams in PRO12

Date published: April 19 2017

The two South African franchises that will be axed from Super Rugby at the end of this season could play in the PRO12 if a South African administrator has his way.

Tony McKeever, who was the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Spears chief executive, has proposed that the two South African sides take part in the Northern Hemisphere competition once SA Rugby confirms which teams that will be.

The Southern Spears franchise was formed in 2005 with the intention of playing Super Rugby from 2007 after a unanimous decision by SA Rugby's Presidents Council.

That never materialised, however, and the Spears ceased to exist before the Southern Kings was established in 2009.

The Cheetahs and Kings appear to be the sides most likely to be axed from Super Rugby this year and while McKeever agrees that those sides should leave Super Rugby, he feels they can play in the PRO12 which runs from September to May. 

"With the size of the current Currie Cup and Super Rugby squads, both the Cheetahs and EP Rugby could easily accommodate this schedule and start playing in September 2017," he told Sport24.
McKeever urged SA Rugby to "accept the news and the fact that two teams are certainly going to be cut and move on, like right now.
"I have already engaged the PRO12 CEO Martin Anayi and proposed he take these two teams and rebrand this as PRO14 and let the Cheetahs and Eastern Province Rugby be a part of this tournament, which starts in September.

"Martin is a visionary and seeks to expand PRO12 into new markets and grow the PRO12 TV audiences and spectators. This is a perfect synergistic way to accomplish that with South African Rugby."

McKeever wants a new Eastern Province Rugby brand to be established as "the Kings brand is so tarnished and damaged beyond repair, like Chernobyl, that no sponsor or corporate would ever consider associating themselves with the Kings."
He believes the addition of the Cheetahs and Kings will be a shot in the arm for the PRO12.

"This would rejuvenate the PRO12/14 tournament with excitement," he added.

"The addition of two South African Super Rugby teams would increase TV viewership in Europe and South Africa and especially on-site spectator audiences coming to Bloemfontein and the (Nelson) Mandela Bay Stadium, to watch their teams play against teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, in this exciting tournament. 

"It would be like the Cheetahs and EP Rugby each hosting six home 'Tests' a year."