Celtic Rugby and the South African Rugby Union have today confirmed that the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will join an expanded Guinness PRO14 tournament in time for the upcoming 2017/18 season.
The addition of the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will require the Championship to introduce a new Conference format as a league format is not suited to a 14-team cross-border tournament.
The Guinness PRO14 will adopt a two-conference model which will allows for the new clubs to be added into the Championship without need to add extra rounds in 2017/18.
Glasgow Warriors (SRU)
Cardiff Blues (WRU)
Zebre Rugby Club (FIR)
Toyota Cheetahs (SA Rugby)
Benetton Rugby (FIR)
Southern Kings (SA Rugby)
– Each conference will contain 7 teams with an equal split of teams from each union
– Every team plays 21 regular season games
– Every team to play each other at least once
– All Home & Away Derby fixtures will remain in place
– Italian, Scottish and South African teams will play an additional Derby fixture to even out the schedule (e.g. Edinburgh will play Glasgow Warriors three times)
– The Guinness PRO14 Final Series will now include Quarter-Finals allowing six clubs to reach the knock-out stages (teams 1-3 from each Conference)
– The top 3 clubs from each conference will qualify for the Champions Cup while the team with the highest points total outside of those six teams across both conferences will claim the final Champions Cup place
South African clubs will not be eligible to qualify for EPCR tournaments at present.
You can read the full statement here: http://www.pro12rugby.com/2017/08/01/statement-expansion-guinness-pro14-championship
What do you think of the expansion?