SA Rugby confirm Cheetahs, Southern Kings Super Rugby axe

The Southern Kings celebrate their win Sharks. Michael Sheehan, Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African Rugby have confirmed that the Cheetahs and Southern Kings will be dropped from Super Rugby in 2018, opening the door for them to join the European PRO12 competition, played between clubs from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales.

Both unions have reached settlement agreements with SA Rugby to end their participation in Super Rugby, and have stated their excitement at exploring "other international competition opportunities", without naming the PRO12 specifically.

SA Rugby's General Council will meet on Friday to ratify the decision, but it is a mere formality.

"The board of the Cheetahs has reviewed the team's future and is extremely positive about the prospect of appearing in alternative international competitions," Harold Verster, CEO of the Cheetahs, said in a media release from SA Rugby on Friday.

Although he did not name the PRO12, the competition heavily assumed to be the next move for the sides, Verster suggested that the future of the Cheetahs was already secure.

"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," he said.

"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."

Andre Rademan, president of the Eastern Province Rugby Union that provides a home base for the Kings, also did not provide details of the team's future, but also suggested they would join 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 in a statement from SA Rugby.

"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."

The Super Rugby competition is being cut from 18 to 15 teams next year, after complaints from broadcasters over the format of the current tournament. Australia will lose the other team, with either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force facing the axe.