Pro14: South African sides benefit league - Edinburgh's Richard Cockerill

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland
Edinburgh against Cheetahs
Edinburgh have faced South African sides in the Pro14 for three seasons

More South African teams should be invited into the Pro14 despite Southern Kings and Cheetahs missing the start of next season, says Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill.

The Englishman thinks it would possibly lead to South Africa joining the Six Nations tournament.

Coronavirus restrictions mean Kings and Cheetahs will not feature when the new campaign kicks off in October.

"It was good having the South African sides in," Cockerill said.

"I think the South African sides have brought a good slant on the competition. It's been good to go and travel there and play at different venues."

Kings confirmed in a statement they would not be playing for the remainder of 2020 due to financial difficulties, with the Pro14 confirming soon after that travel restrictions would prevent both South African sides from taking part in the league before the new year.

But Cockerill thinks introducing the South African sides is an experiment worth persisting with.

"It's like most things, unless you do it and try it, you're never going to know are you?" he said.

"So I think it's been a success to a point personally. Clearly, Cheetahs have a great history as a franchise and have brought some fantastic players through that system at Bloemfontein. Kings are a bit different."

There has been reports of Pro14 inviting the four remaining South African sides - Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers - into the competition for the 2021/22 season, with Kings and Cheetahs possibly dropping out.

"If moving forward, as has been suggested, we have the other four Super Rugby franchises join the Pro16 or Pro18 or whatever it may end up being, that would be strong," Cockerill said. "I can see the South African connection with Europe.

"If that does happen with the Pro14, you can see South Africa joining the Six or Seven Nations and how good would that be if we had the Springboks playing in that tournament and we had their provincial teams playing against us in the league?

"I think it was a bold move, very much worth doing and I think it will open up a passageway for things to expand due to what's happened with Super Rugby."

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