The Pro12 is set for expansion sooner than expected.
It had been reported earlier this year that South African side Cheetahs had been formally invited to join the league. However, according to BBC Wales, there has been a further development: two South African sides are set to join the Pro12 as early as the coming season.
The 2017/18 campaign is likely to see the inclusion of both Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
Both teams currently play Super Rugby. However, the league is reducing its number of teams from 18 to 15 for next season. Two South African sides along with one Australian will lose their Super Rugby status.
South African rugby's governing body is keen for the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs and the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings to join the northern hemisphere tournament and Celtic Rugby Limited, which runs the Pro12, is amenable to the development.
The details of how the expanded competition would work have yet to be ironed out. There is a possibility that the league could be split into two conferences.
The South African sides playing some of their home games at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens, a team which has strong South African links, has also been mooted.
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