Cheetahs and Kings out of Super Rugby next season
By Katie Shanahan
Last Updated: 07/07/17 11:07am
The Cheetahs and Southern Kings will be dropped from Super Rugby next season.
South Africa Rugby says the two teams have reached agreements with the national union and will explore other "international competition opportunities".
The Cheetahs were meant to compete in Super Rugby until 2020 but have opted out early.
Along with the Kings, they are tipped to join the Guinness PRO12 competition for clubs from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy for the 2017-18 season.
Cheetahs CEO Harold Vorster said: "The board of the Toyota Cheetahs has reviewed the team's future and is extremely positive about the prospect of appearing in alternative international competitions.
"It will be an exciting challenge for our players, supporters and commercial partners, and will be the start of a new chapter for rugby both in our region and in South Africa.
"Also, it will allow the Cheetahs to carve out a new and prominent place on the rugby map in South Africa as well as internationally," he added.
The Super Rugby competition is being cut from 18 to 15 teams next year following complaints from broadcasters about the format of the tournament.
One of Australia's five teams is also due to be dropped, although the Australian Rugby Union hasn't yet said which one out of the Perth-based Western Force and Melbourne Rebels will go.
Andre Rademan, president of the Eastern Province Rugby Union that provides a home base for the Kings, also hinted they would be joining a new competition soon.
"It has been a roller coaster ride for the franchise for a number of seasons but there is now a clear and viable way forward for rugby in the Eastern Cape to build on the foundations that have been laid - particularly in the past season, he said."
"We have enjoyed Super Rugby but the chance to test ourselves against different opposition in different conditions is a mouth-watering one. We are therefore not opposed to joining new competitions," Rademan added.
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