The Guinness Pro14 expanded by two this season as the Southern Kings and Cheetahs joined the tournament following their departure from Super Rugby. It is now reported that another three South African clubs will join the competition by the 2020/21 season.
In Wales Online, Steffan Thomas has reported that the Natal Sharks, currently third in the South African standings, will join the competition along with one other club for the 2019-20 season. The Lions and Stormers are reported to be the most likely to follow.
For quite some time now, it has been reported that South African rugby officials are deeply unhappy with the revamped Super Rugby format. As various unions pushed for bigger representation the competition was dramatically altered to a system now deemed unfair for some. As KEO.co.za pointed out earlier this year, the Sharks will not face the Crusaders or Reds this year. It means in its current form several South African sides have multiple games in New Zealand while others have more in Australia. It is deemed an unjust scheduling format.
It was also reported in South Africa media that if one of their teams were to win the Pro14, it may allow the South African sides enter the Champions Cup which would prove highly lucrative. Currently, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings cannot qualify for the Champions Cup through the Pro14.
The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings were cut from the Super Rugby Championship last season but were given an olive branch by Pro Rugby to join a newly formed Pro14 this season. This year the Cheetahs finished third in Conference A, while the Southern Kings were bottom of conference B.