South African Rugby Union boss Jurie Roux wants four South African franchises playing in Northern Hemisphere competitions and four in Super Rugby.
Roux, talking to Ben Coles of the Daily Telegraph, said the introduction of the Kings and Cheetahs into an expanded Pro 14 would positively influence the rugby landscape of South Africa and would lead to greater expansion in the north.
Roux also reiterated SA Rugby’s commitment to Super Rugby’s revised competition structure, which will accommodate the Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Stormers.
‘SARU’s ambition is to have eight professional franchises in South Africa, two more than the current total, with four of those playing in Super Rugby and another four in Europe.
‘I can promise you that if we had more teams to move [into Europe] at this stage then we would do so. There is a massive interest, Roux told the Daily Telegraph.
‘We envisage two more franchises in South African rugby in the near future with the opportunity to play in the north.
‘There are only about three or four potential teams who could really [turn professional], based on the criteria of economic feasibility and sustainability, plus whether they have the support base and quality of players.’
Roux, at the South African launch of the 2017 Pro14 likened the occasion to Super Rugby’s launch 21 years ago.
‘We are breaking new ground with a number of global firsts: this is the first cross-hemisphere domestic club competition; the first time we will have played summer rugby in South Africa and the first experiment in aligning a season in the south with that of the north.
‘Our eyes are on the bigger picture, which is new horizons and new opportunities for South African rugby and our PRO14 partners,’ said Roux. ‘This is a momentous day for rugby – as significant as the launch of the Super 12 tournament, 21 years ago.’