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'Is the PRO14 benefiting South African rugby or is it costing us money and players?'

By Alex Shaw
Kennedy Tsimba has not held back in his criticism of the Guinness PRO14. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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It’s been a good few months for the Guinness PRO14, with two of the competition’s sides making it through to the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals, whilst five of the eight quarter-finalists also hailed from the Celtic-dominated tournament.

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Other positive stories include Wales winning the Six Nations Grand Slam, with the majority of their side hailing from the four regions within the PRO14, and improved fortunes for the participating Italian sides, with Benetton Rugby currently sitting 3rd in Conference B, just two points behind second-placed Ulster.

The positive PR, however, has been challenged by former Cheetahs fly-half Kennedy Tsimba.

Speaking to Sport24 in South Africa, Tsimba labelled the PRO14 a “B-rate competition because you don’t see the top players from the likes of Leinster and Munster released to play in that league.”

Tsimba went on to state that “only when they play in the European Cup do you see all their top players” and that “it makes a statement of how they see the PRO14.”

“Whether it’s bringing financial benefit, the Cheetahs will know in the long run, but the crowd attendances haven’t been impressive. Is the PRO14 benefiting South African rugby or is it costing us more money? And how many players are we developing?”

“The Cheetahs always used to develop players some of whom went on to star for the Springboks. However, if I look at the current team it looks like they are trying to get numbers to survive in a competition that doesn’t really enhance South African rugby from my point of view.”

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“For me, the PRO14 is a competition that is neither here nor there. Super Rugby far exceeds the standard of the PRO14. You have got stars that European clubs are offering big contracts to, which is an indication that Super Rugby possesses the world’s best players.”

Watch: RugbyPass takes you behind-the-scenes of the 2018 PRO14 Final Day.

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Tsimba starred for the Cheetahs in the years prior to their admittance to Super Rugby and also enjoyed a short spell at Bath in the Gallagher Premiership, after he impressed during the Rugby World Cup 7s in 1997.

Currently the director of rugby at St Alban’s College in Pretoria, Tsimba’s comments are unlikely to go down well in PRO14 circles given the success the tournament is having this season, whilst the Cheetahs’ lowly position in Conference A does not lend too much validity to his suggestion of the inferiority of the competition.

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Watch: Tom Williams calls time on his career at Harlequins

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PRO 14    

'Is the PRO14 benefiting South African rugby or is it costing us money and players?'

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