The Guinness PRO14 season: How the Derbies will work

Guinness PRO12 Editor
03 August 2017

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The Guinness PRO14 has welcomed new arrivals the Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings for the hotly-anticipated new season, as 12 teams becomes 14.

The new-look competition – with its two-conference system – will hand the South African teams the fresh challenge of European conditions, and bring southern hemisphere rugby to a whole new audience.

The integration of the South African clubs has been well planned and the preservation of local Derbies has been one of the key focuses of organisers.

Crucially, all Irish and Welsh clubs will play six Derby games as in years gone by, and the Italian, Scottish, and South African clubs will get the bonus of three Derbies a season instead of two.

Every team in the PRO14 will play each other at least once and all home and away Derby fixtures remain in place.

Each team will play 12 in-Conference games, seven out-of-Conference – and then two extra Derby fixtures to ensure fans get to see those games which matter to them most.

As an example, Zebre will play against Benetton Treviso once across conferences and then twice more in the two specified Derby Rounds.

The Scottish and South African clubs will follow the same format with the home venue for the third Derby fixture alternating each season in the same fashion as the Six Nations.

There have been countless memorable Derbies for Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Italian clubs over the years and these have been guaranteed in the new structure.

Who can forget the final round of the 16/17 PRO12 season when Treviso finished their campaign on a high by defeating local rivals Zebre 19-3 to secure Champions Cup rugby for 17/18.

And as recently as three weeks ago the PRO14’s new additions also played out a thriller in the final Super Rugby match for both sides.

The game at the 46,0000-seat Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, saw the visiting Cheetahs snatch a 21-20 victory in what was an emotional farewell for both clubs.

Three Kings tries gave the home side a 20-6 lead with 12 minutes remaining, but the Cheetahs responded with a double of their own before Niel Marais’ late penalty won the white-knuckle game.

The Scottish clubs also played out two enthralling Derbies last season with both teams triumphing away from home – with Edinburgh ending their season on a high with a 29-18 victory at Scotstoun back in May.

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