Pro12 Set For 'Radical' Overhaul To Make Way For South African Clubs
The number of guaranteed Welsh derbies in the Pro12 for each Welsh region "is set to be cut from six to four as part of the radical competition overhaul" due to be announced in the coming week, according to Delme Parfitt of WALES ONLINE. Pro12 execs "are expected to announce" a two-conference system which will see seven teams in each with the addition of South African sides the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings. It will "effectively then become" the Pro14. Because each conference cannot have more than two teams from the same country, the Welsh regions are "to be separated down the middle," with the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues in Conference A and the Ospreys and Newport Gwent Dragons in Conference B. It means the overall number of Welsh derbies over the course of the ordinary campaign "will reduce by a third, from 12 to eight matches." With speculation that TV and sponsorship money, "once the South African teams come on board," will be worth £10M ($13.1M), "any loss of revenue because of fewer derbies looks set to be more than offset" (WALES ONLINE, 7/16). The BBC reported despite being "set to play in a European league," the Kings and Cheetahs are "keen to remain based in South Africa" rather than the U.K. There "has been a suggestion they could play some of their home matches" in the U.K., with Saracens' Allianz Arena "mooted as a potential venue" (BBC, 7/14).