Craig Ray: South African rugby taking the positives from new PRO14 venture

The Southern Kings and the Cheetahs have joined an expanded competition

BY Simon Maguire 11:55 Wednesday 2 August 2017, 11:55 2 Aug 2017

General view of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Picture by: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

The big news in the rugby world on Tuesday is the confirmation of the expansion of the Guinness PRO12 to 14 teams.

South Africa's Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs will take part in the new Guinness PRO14 Championship from this season onwards.

There will be two conferences each consisting of two Irish teams, two Welsh teams with one team from each of Scotland, Italy and South Africa. 

Each team will play 21 "regular season" games with the top three teams in each conference progressing to the play-offs.

South African rugby journalist Craig Ray joined Tuesday's Off the Ball to discuss the move and speaking to Joe Molloy he said: "I think it's a great move for those two franchises in particular but also for South African rugby because I've heard from some good sources that Bulls and the Lions - who are hosting the Super Rugby final on Saturday - they were very interested in jumping ship and going straight into PRO14 or maybe even expanding it to PRO16 so the appetite is there from the South African teams.

"The jet-lag and the travel isn't going to be an issue really because it's an overnight flight - you're either coming south or heading north and you're there overnight, it's in-and-out. I mean, Super Rugby, the logistics are a nightmare...this is a far easier solution for a South African team that's touring and vice-versa. 

"It's got the unknown factor, it's got the exotic factor...there's a lot to be excited about, I think. And, the Cheetahs and the Kings, there were sort of admittedly the weakest teams in the South African conference but they were also always unsure of their place and this gives them a clean slate and they have a chance to establish something really good," he added. 

Gavin Cummiskey also joined the discussion and the full podcast can be heard here:

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