A special general meeting of the SARU voted on Tuesday to explore entering four teams into an expanded PRO Rugby competition as well as retaining a place in a revised SANZAAR competition.
The four South Africa teams voted to potentially make the transition to the PRO14 were the existing Super Rugby franchises – the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers.
The decision was taken by the 13 voting member unions of SARU at a specially convened meeting to determine international participation and competition formats in a Covid-impacted rugby environment.
The Border Rugby Union – which is under administration – currently has its voting powers suspended.
The meeting rejected the first option of remaining in a PRO14 format and leaving four franchises to engage in potential successor SANZAAR domestic formats. SA Rugby will now accelerate preliminary conversations with PRO Rugby Championship regarding South African representation in the competition, a joint venture between the rugby unions of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.
The general meeting also opted to continue conversations with SANZAAR about entering a team into a modified Super Series format on the proviso that a commercial model is developed to make their entry cost neutral at least once agreement had been reached with SANZAAR.
The meeting agreed that the Toyota Cheetahs would be proposed as the South African entry to such a competition.With the Southern Kings already in voluntary liquidation, that would see the four South African Super Rugby teams replace the two current South Africa PRO14 teams and turn the European tournament into a PRO16.
Meanwhile Rugby World Cup-winners Duane Vermeulen, Elton Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff and Herschel Jantjies expressed their excitement for the Springbok showdown, saying they were looking forward to a thrilling clash.
They were also keen to see what the young players in their respective Springbok Green and Gold squads had to offer as they take a step up in their careers on Saturday.
The Springbok Green team welcomed injured Rugby World Cup-winning lock Lood de Jager on Tuesday as their lineout coach, while the Gold team had a new edition in Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, who replaces Jaden Hendrikse following his withdrawal due to a chest injury.
De Jager suffered a shoulder injury earlier this month while representing his English club, the Sale Sharks, and will assist Springbok Green team coach Mzwandile Stick and assistant coach Daan Human before going under the knife next week.
Van Zyl, who earned three Test caps in 2018 and was named in the original draft squad of 93, will want to make a statement to the Springbok coaching staff.
A concerted effort between players, coaches and referees in the lockdown period seems to have been the spark for the exciting start to the South African season after the Covid-19 enforced break this past weekend.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber admitted on Monday that the decision inspired by Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus in the off-time to study leagues across the world and see where mistakes were being made had filtered through to a positive start in the South African season.
A weekly meeting between coaches, referees and Erasmus with the Bok management discussed various aspects of the Aotearoa tournament, the AU tournament in Australia and the European leagues and where they were struggling with the implementation of the new breakdown laws.
The extra time to study and prepare had a positive impact on the SuperFan Saturday games with the continuity being a lot more impressive in week one than in other parts of the world.
Nienaber admitted he was impressed with the way the players handled the situation, and with the quality of rugby that was dished up in the two games.