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Pro14 chief forecasts inevitable US expansion

Pro14 chief forecasts inevitable US expansion
Martin Anayi (CEO of Pro14), Gerald Davies (Chairman of Pro14) and Jurie Roux (SARU CEO) announce the expansion to Pro14

It is a matter of “when, not if” Pro14 expands to include a team from the east coast of the United States, according to the league’s chief executive Martin Anayi.

The competition grew from 12 to 14 teams this season to include Southern Kings and Cheetahs from South Africa, who have lost their place in Super Rugby.

Newcastle Falcons are due to play a Premiership fixture against Saracens in Philadelphia on Saturday as part of a partnership between the league and American broadcaster NBC Sports.

And Anayi, who helped bring the South African sides to Pro14, is keen to tap into a potentially lucrative American market.

“We are thinking about what is next,” Anayi said in an interview with The Times.

“The two teams in South Africa can change our game and change our tournament and if we get that right we shouldn’t stop there.

“We would be looking to expand again at some stage. We have got to do things differently. When it comes to America we have to be innovative.

“The English have got a great thing going in Philadelphia and it will go really well.

“How do we play to our strengths as Celtic nations but also nations with huge diaspora, Italian and South African, around the world?

“What are the key markets to become global [as a competition]? We have had more than expressions of interest [in the US], we have had real solid business cases that would make it work on the east coast, and so it is a question of when, not if.”

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Pro14 chief forecasts inevitable US expansion