Pro14 'may expand further', says Scottish Rugby chief Dominic McKay

Southern Kings' Rudi van Rooyen is tackled during a match against Cheetahs
Cheetahs and Southern Kings were ditched by Super Rugby

Adding two South African teams to become the Pro14 might not mark the end of the competition's expansion into other territories, says Scottish Rugby chief operating officer Dominic McKay.

The Cheetahs and Southern Kings will join a league that will now be split into two conferences of seven teams.

"But that might not be the end of the story," McKay told BBC Scotland.

"We may expand further if that is right for the tournament and it is right for the competition - and for the clubs."

Since 2010, the Pro12 has included four Welsh club, four from Ireland and two each from Italy and Scotland.

"Expanding is in our DNA," said McKay. "We expanded into Italy about seven years ago and expansion was something we are very keen on.

"An opportunity came up in South Africa to bring in two quality South African teams into our competition and we were keen to grasp that.

Glasgow Warriors' Sean Lamont is tackled against Edinburgh
Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors will have one extra derby game

"To look at South Africa was something we just couldn't turn down."

Southern Kings finished 11th and Cheetahs 13th in this season's Super Rugby table, which also involves clubs from Australia and New Zealand.

Although they lost their places for next season as the competition is being cut from 18 teams to 15, McKay thinks their addition to the northern hemisphere competition will be good for the league, clubs, players and supporters.

"These are South African teams that have got outstanding players in their ranks, but importantly it gives our players in Scotland exposure in a new market," he said.

"It gives them a chance to play in the southern hemisphere. At the moment, the only chance they get to play in the southern hemisphere is either a World Cup or a summer tour.

"So this exposes them to a whole new environment, which I think is very exciting for the coaches and for the players.

"With more teams coming in, the challenge increases, but that's something our coaches, players and us as administrators are up for."

Scottish Rugby chief operating officer Dominic McKay
Dominic McKay is hoping Glasgow and Edinburgh will benefit financially

Although Glasgow and Edinburgh will be in separate conferences, cross-conference matches mean there will be one extra Scottish derby.

"The exciting thing is that we have Glasgow and Edinburgh playing each other three times this year," said McKay.

"We have listened to our supporters who love the derby games, so we'll expand the number of derbies this year, but it also gives them the opportunity to watch outstanding rugby from the southern hemisphere as well."

McKay also hopes an expansion, predicted to bring in an extra £6m in revenue annually, will help Scottish Rugby find external investment for their two professional clubs.

"We said last year we wanted to take into the market place the possibility of investment into Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby and we've had a number of conversations - and a number of those conversations are ongoing just now," he added.

"We are in a good place. There is no doubt that enhancing our league and developing the competition in which Glasgow and Edinburgh play in can only assist us with that particular process.

"Expanding into new territories and growing the league and growing the opportunities for Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby, both commercially off the field and on the filed, can only be good for those discussions."

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