South African clubs could soon be competing for the Heineken Champions Cup.
EPCR chairman Simon Halliday has indicated that the four South African clubs set to join the Pro14 could soon be eligible to play in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions are set to join an expanded Pro14 at the end of this season, taking part in a competition known as the ‘Rainbow Cup’ before joining the full tournament next year.
The #GuinnessPRO14 group chat is on FIRE 🔥
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) January 19, 2021
While the previous South African sides in the Pro14, the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings, weren’t eligible to qualify for European competitions, this may not be the case for the four former Super Rugby sides.
Positive signs for South African expansion
An eight-year agreement which prevented non-European clubs from competing is set to expire in 2022, paving the way for South African involvement in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
“It expires effectively in 2022 so we were always going to be debating what the future looked like from two years out and we have been doing that. We have had an independent review.
New Episode and we have European Rugby’s top man Simon Halliday on to find out about this season’s @ChampionsCup. Also:
– Ealing Trailblazers
– Eddie’s England squad,
– Big rumour mill
– Animal-themed riddle
— The Rugby Pod (@TheRugbyPod) January 19, 2021
“They have come up with a load of recommendations, which the board have unanimously backed, and we’re now working out how that feeds into a new agreement and it’s very exciting.
“Obviously, we [EPCR] only take from the leagues the teams that they present so that is the answer on South Africa.
“We know South Africa have an intention to become part of the PRO16 and we’re fully expecting if that happens for that to come our way. We’d be pretty naive if we didn’t think that,” Halliday explained to The Rugby Pod.
The South African sides will be sure to add plenty of quality to European competition should they be allowed to enter, with each side boasting a number of World Cup-winning Springboks.
The Pretoria-based Bulls look set to pose the biggest challenge to Europe’s top clubs, boasting three Super Rugby titles, as well as the domestic Super Rugby Unlocked trophy they added to their collection in November.