The Southern Kings, the new South African franchise, is ready to launch their bid to become the 15th team in Super Rugby.
Rugby 365 reports that Eastern Province Rugby Union supremo Cheeky Watson, one of the key figures in the new franchise, said the decision to expanded Super Rugby to a 15-team competition has opened the door for the Kings to join the world’s toughest provincial competition.
Watson confirmed that the Kings, which will be formally launched with a match against the British and Irish Lions in Port Elizabeth on June 16, will make a formal bid for inclusion in the SANZAR competition.
The 15th team will be decided through a tender process.
“We do not know when we will be able to start the tender process, because we are still waiting on SANZAR,” Watson told the Port Elizabeth-based Herald newspaper.
“However, we are very excited about this decision, because it will benefit us in the long run,” he said.
If the Southern Kings won the bid, Port Elizabeth will be the headquarters.
The expansion plans were formally released on Tuesday, following weeks of media speculation about the new Super Rugby format.
The competition will be expanded to 15 teams from 2011 and feature more local derbies, under a compromise plan unveiled by the South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby boards.
The competition has been expanded from 14 to 24 weeks, starting in late February and ending in August.
The future of the SANZAR alliance had been under threat, with the three countries divided about details such as the length and format of the new competition, before brokering a deal at a meeting in Dublin last week.
Under the agreed proposal, which still has to be approved by broadcasters next month, the 15 teams will be split into three Conferences, one in each country.
Each of those sides will play the teams in their own Conference twice a season, home and away, to increase the number of local derby matches. They will also play eight of the other 10 teams from the other two Conferences once, either at home or away.
The three Conference winners will qualify for the finals, along with three wild cards, which will comprise other teams with the highest points for the whole season from any of the conferences.
The top two teams, on standings points, go automatically into the semifinals, with the other four teams playing in a preliminary knockout round and the two winners from that joining the top two in the semifinals.
The new 24-week season will also include a three-week break in June to allow for mid-year internationals.
The Tri-Nations, which normally starts in July, will now commence at the end of the Super 15, in early August, and will follow a permanent pattern.
South Africa will stage the first leg of the series, while New Zealand and Australia will meet in the last two matches so the Springbok players are available for the domestic Currie Cup – one of the major talking points in the negotiations.Tweet