The news we have all been waiting for: the Guinness PRO14 is here!
Celtic Rugby and the South African Rugby Union have confirmed that the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will join an expanded tournament in time for the upcoming 2017/18 season.
A long-term strategic agreement has been signed by both parties which will allow the participation of two South African franchises in the renamed Guinness PRO14 Championship.
The agreement means that the Championship will take place across the northern and southern hemispheres and marks the first phase of expansion as the Guinness PRO14 becomes a truly global tournament.
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.
- Munster (IRFU)
- Ospreys (WRU)
- Glasgow Warriors (SRU)
- Cardiff Blues (WRU)
- Connacht (IRFU)
- Zebre Rugby Club (FIR)
- Toyota Cheetahs (SA Rugby)
- Scarlets (WRU)
- Leinster (IRFU)
- Ulster (IRFU)
- Edinburgh (SRU)
- Benetton Rugby (FIR)
- Dragons (WRU)
- 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
The regular season will consist of 21 Rounds, which is one game less than the previous format. These Rounds will be made up from a combination of:
- 12 Home & Away games in your team’s conference
- 7 Home OR Away games against each team from the other conference
- An additional 2 Rounds to ensure all derby fixtures are played home & away (this means Scottish, Italian, South African clubs play three derbies)
The fixture list has been drafted for all 21 rounds, this will be confirmed next week (commencing August 7) after the Championship’s broadcast partners have made their selections for live television broadcasts and the clubs have been consulted.
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