Australia will lose one of its five Super Rugby teams ahead of next year’s competition, according to Cheetahs boss Harold Verster.
Verster was quoted as saying the competition would be reduced from 18 teams to 16, with one franchise to be cut from both South Africa and Australia.
If true, the news does not bode well for the Kings, who would almost certainly be the South African team to face the axe. Verster has said he has been assured the Cheetahs are safe.
In Australia, however, there has been much recent speculation about which side would miss out, if one is to be cut.
There is currently a review of the Super Rugby competition being held by SANZAAR with a meeting being held in London this weekend.
“All I can say is that we are safe. I keep my ear to the ground,” Verster said.
“There is much discussion about the current series and the format and two teams of South Africa will fall out and a team of Australia.”
“There was even speculation that we would return to a Super 12, but my information is that we are going to be reduced from the current 18 to 16 teams, which means the Cheetahs are safe.”
There does not appear to be any kind of risk that the Queensland Reds or NSW Waratahs would be on the chopping block.
However the Melbourne Rebels, Western Force and ACT Brumbies all have reason to potentially be concerned about their respective futures.
The Force, being owned and operated by the ARU, might loom as the team that could be most easily shut down.
The Rebels, however, have started the season in very poor form, and find themselves well outside rugby heartland.
The Brumbies are Australia’s most successful side and a solid proposition on the field, but had significant off-field drama last year.
The three sides must now endure a nervous wait until SANZAAR officially announces its plans for the future of the competition.