With little over a month to go until the new PRO12 (or PRO14) season, we have yet to hear official confirmation of the tournament’s expansion or the details in which how they would work.
However, there have been numerous reports which seem to have some weight behind them and the format of the tournament will likely look like this.
- The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will join the tournament to create a 14-team competition;
- The league will be divided into two conferences;
- In each conference, teams will play each other home and away;
- Teams in each conference will also play each team in the other conference but on one occasion;
- Additional fixtures will be added for sides in opposing conferences which are likely to be derby matches.
When the status quo changes, there will always be an element of doubt and scepticism towards whether a new format will be successful or not. Some have doubts that Celtic Rugby are following the mistakes made by Super Rugby who are looking to simplify their tournament with the cutting of teams. While others believe that this is a much-needed shakeup to a tournament which has failed to capture the imaginations of not only rugby supporters but commercial entities also.
Martyn Williams, who represented Wales on 100 occasions, believes that the new format will be too confusing.
“I think you should just go with a league. I know there’s extra games to be played, but just play each other home and away,” Williams told The Friday Night Social.
“It’ll be so confusing if you’ve got two conferences, two of seven and working out who plays who. We’ve got to keep all our Welsh derbies because they’re the games that bring the crowds in.”
Williams admits, however, that change is needed and welcomes the inclusion of the two South African sides.
“The Pro12 needs to look at other revenue streams because it’s not quite working as it is.
“The South Africans… will be stronger than the Italian teams and in fairness the people in charge of the Pro12, it’s not a knee-jerk reaction it’s something they’ve gone through and obviously the numbers work.”
With the confirmation of the expansion expected this week, hopefully, we will finally get an idea of how the tournament will work.
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