Guinness Pro14: How the expanded tournament will work

Format of tournament changes with arrival of Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs

Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, home of the Southern Kings who, alongside Toyota Cheetahs, have been added to  Pro14

Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, home of the Southern Kings who, alongside Toyota Cheetahs, have been added to Pro14

 

What is new tournament called? The Guinness Pro14.

What teams have been added? The South African franchises the Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs have been added to the teams in last season’s Guinness Pro12.

What about the format? Each conference contains seven teams with an equal split from union, two Irish, two Welsh and one apiece from Scotland, Italy and South Africa. Participants play 21 regular season games with every team to play each other at least once. All home and away derby fixtures will remain in place. Italian, Scottish and South African teams will play an additional derby fixture to even out the schedule (eg Edinburgh will play Glasgow Warriors three times).

Can you break that down a little further? Teams will play 12 matches in total, home and away, against their conference rivals, and all seven teams in the other conference. Irish provinces complete their schedules with two further derby matches against provinces in the other conference per se.

So teams will not play the same number of home and away matches in a season? Correct. Some teams will have 11 home matches in the upcoming season but then the following campaign will have 10 and vice versa for those who have only 10 home matches in the upcoming campaign. The initial balance of away fixtures was predicated on a number of factors including: stadium availability; club preference; player welfare and the accommodation of mini-tours involving fixtures with South African clubs.

What about the playoffs? The Pro14 Final Series will now include quarter-finals allowing six clubs to reach the knockout stages. The top three clubs from each conference will qualify for the Champions Cup while the fourth-placed team with the highest points total will claim the final Champions Cup place.

Does that qualification process for the Champions Cup include the southern hemisphere teams? No. South African clubs will not be eligible to qualify for EPCR tournaments at present.

Will the conferences be redrawn every season on merit? Yes. The number of teams by union will remain constant in each conference, but in order to ensure a competitive balance the teams will then be distributed evenly based upon their union ranking from the season before.

Final placings are determined by the order in which teams progress through the Guinness Pro14 Final Series. So for example the Scarlets finished third in the league format last season but went on to win the title. They would be seeded one in the Guinness Pro14 rankings the following season.

Conference A: Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Munster, Connacht, Glasgow, Zebre, Cheetahs.

Conference B: Scarlets, Dragons, Leinster, Ulster, Edinburgh, Benetton Treviso, Southern Kings.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.