Meet the South African sides set to join Pro12

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The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings are set to be invited to join the Pro12 after it was announced they would leave Super Rugby which is cutting its number of teams from 18 to 15.

The South African franchises, who played their final Super Rugby game on Friday with the Cheetahs defeating the Kings 21-20, would join 12 teams from Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland from September.

Pro12 board members are set to meet in Dublin on Tuesday, 18 July to discuss the tournament’s immediate future with the South African sides expected to join – with the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions maintaining their Super Rugby status.

But what do we know about them?


Who are they?

Known as the Toyota Cheetahs, the franchise area encompasses the western half of the Free State province, the same as that of provincial Currie Cup side the Free State Cheetahs.

The Cheetahs were one of the two new franchises that entered the expanded Super Rugby competition in 2006, alongside Australia’s Western Force.

Where do they play?

They are based at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. The stadium had its capacity increased to 48,000 for the 2010 World Cup.

How successful have they been?

In their first season the Cheetahs finished 10th in the final standings out of 14 sides. Their best regular season finish was in 2013 when they were sixth.

In 2017 the Cheetahs finished second in the Africa I conference, but seventh out of eight in the South African standings and 13th overall. They won four out of their 15 games.

Who has played for them?

Some of the famous Springbok names include Os du Randt, Juan Smith, Willie le Roux, Heinrich Brussow and Cornal Hendricks.

Dragons pair Sarel Pretorius and Rynard Landman also represented the Cheetahs before moving to Wales.

Current Springboks include back-rower Oupa Mohoje and wing Raymond Rhule.

Who is the coach?

On 17 July, 2017, the side announced a coaching staff switch, with Franco Smith becoming the new director of rugby and Rory Duncan the head coach of the Cheetahs and Free State Cheetahs.

Smith is a former Springboks outside-half and centre who made 27 appearances for Newport after making his debut 1999.

Smith also coached Treviso before taking over the role as Cheetahs’ head coach in 2015.

Southern Kings

Who are they?

The team were created in 2009 to play the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa, a match the Kings lost 20-8.

After initially failing to gain a Super Rugby franchise, the Kings were awarded a place in the 2013 competition.

For their debut season the Kings’ catchment area was made up of the Eastern Cape and parts of the Western Cape, drawing players from three provincial unions.

After the South African Rugby Union (SARU) took over the running of the franchise in November 2015, the franchise had no formal ties to any of the provincial unions.

Where do they play?

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is a 46,000-seater stadium in Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape. It was one of three coastal stadiums to host during the 2010 World Cup.

How successful have they been?

After making their debut in 2013 the Kings were relegated after losing the two-legged match with the Lions. They missed the 2014 and 2015 seasons before returning for 2016.

In 2016 they won just two out of 15 matches, finished bottom of the four teams in the Africa 2 Conference, seventh in the South African Group and 17th overall, with just the Japanese Sunwolves team finishing the season with a worse record.

In 2017 the Kings again finished bottom of the Africa 2 Conference but were fifth in the South African standings and 11th overall. The Kings won six out of their 15 games.

Who has played for them?

Scarlets supporters will know one of their former players in lock David Bulbring.

Former Leicester outside-half Jaco van der Westhuyzen played in the opening game against the Lions in 2009 and kicked a penalty.

Ex-Bath and Springboks flanker Luke Watson also turned out for the Kings.

There are no notable Springboks in the current squad with back-rower Andisa Ntsila, second-row Wilhelm van der Sluys and prop Schalk Ferreira some of their prominent performers

Who is the coach?

Former back-row or lock forward Deon Davids has been the Kings head coach for the last two seasons in Super Rugby.


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