At a glance it seems that the Cheetahs have been drawn in a much stronger conference than the Southern Kings for next season’s Pro14 competition.
The Cheetahs have been drawn in Conference A with the 2019/20 season’s PRO14 Champions, Leinster, and also runners-up Glasgow Warriors, for the next two seasons of the northern hemisphere showpiece.
The Southern Kings will play in Conference B
The conferences were confirmed on Monday.
The conference tables were completed after the final pool round of the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 season in April, with the teams being ordered from one to 14 based upon their final points totals, before being ranked within their respective unions.
The Cheetahs will have both last season’s finalists and respective winners of the two conferences, Leinster and Glasgow Warriors, to contend with in their Conference A. Leinster won the 2018/19 final 18-15.
These two sides, in their respective conferences, were also the top try-scoring sides last season, with Leinster dotting down 95 times and Glasgow scoring 83 tries.
The Cheetahs will also have to play Ireland club Ulster, who placed second in Conference B, twice as a conference adversary this coming season, as well as the Ospreys who finished fourth in Conference A, and the lowly Zebre (last in Conference A with only two wins from their 21 matches) and the Dragons (second last in Conference B) in their conference.
The Kings, who finished last in Conference B, will have to contend on a double-round basis with Munster (second in Conference A last season), Connacht (third in Conference A), Benetton Treviso (third in Conference B), Scarlets (fourth in Conference B), Cardiff Blues (fifth in Conference A) and Edinburgh (fifth in Conference B).
♦ According to the competition organisers, the criteria for placing teams in each of the two conferences were based on ensuring a competitive tournament with an equal spread of teams from each union in both conferences.
The Cheetahs won eight of their 21 pool matches last season and earned 46 log points to finish far above Zebre Rugby Club on points in conference A, while the Southern Kings had an unlucky season in which they won two matches, drew one and suffered seven agonising defeats by seven points or less, to finish as the last-placed team in Conference B.
The kick-off date for the 2019/2020 Guinness PRO14 season will be announced in due course.
PRO14 Conferences for the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 seasons –
Zebre Rugby Club
Article adapted from release by SA Rugby Communications