Pro16 would 'open door of opportunity for South Africa' says Robbie Kempson

Robbie Kempson
Kempson's Southern Kings were put into voluntary liquidation in September

Former Southern Kings director of rugby Robbie Kempson believes the game in South Africa would thrive as a result of the introduction of its four Super Rugby sides into the Pro14.

Talks remain ongoing for the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions to join the league at the start of the 2021-22 campaign, creating the Pro16.

Kempson's Kings were placed into voluntary liquidation in September while the Cheetahs also bowed out of this season's competition, leaving the league without any South African teams.

The introduction of the four Super Rugby sides has already received public support from the Irish Rugby Football Union, who believe they will benefit from the increased levels of competition.

"I was sad for the Southern Kings and what's happened to them but it does open a door of opportunity for South African rugby," Kempson, who spent two seasons as playing at Ulster, told Sportsound Extra Time.

"The Southern Kings underperformed quite woefully throughout the competition in the time they were in it, so to have stronger teams join up with the Celtic nations it can only be a positive.

"Very unfortunate for our guys, thankfully a number of them have found other Pro14 clubs to play in and the South African franchises so not all is lost.

"It's important that we get these guys in a positive frame of mind and working towards a common goal in South African rugby."

The Kings finished bottom of Conference B in all three of their Pro14 seasons, winning just three games, while the Cheetahs made the quarter-finals once.

The four teams poised to enter the competition will be expected to have a greater impact around the top end of the conferences.

Robbie Kempson
Kempson played for Ulster between 2002 and 2004

There is no indication as of yet that the teams will be considered for a place in European competitions should the move go through, but Kempson remains hopeful such an agreement can be reached.

"If those doors and avenues are open, the European Cup and potentially the Six Nations thereafter, it would be wonderful from a South African perspective.

"I think baby steps, getting into the Champions Cup first and foremost.

"I find it difficult to believe that the Six Nations would change their format, even in the near term, considering their heritage that lies there at the present time.

"If you look at the way the Unions are structured in South Africa, the Bulls and the Stormers are your two big unions that have a lot of money behind them.

"The Sharks is a very well-run business with a board that makes sure they are profitable at all times.

"I think it's the profitability and the business side of it that everyone can learn from in South African rugby and franchise rugby worldwide."

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