Cheetahs, Kings face the axe in South Africa

Super Rugby
by AFP

South Africa began Tuesday a process to decide which two of their six Super Rugby franchises will be axed at the end of this season.

A South African Rugby (SAR) statement said a committee consisting of representatives from all the franchises met and agreed to consider various criteria.

The financial and economic sustainability, support base, team performances and stadiums and facilities of each team will be analysed.

SAR said the data would be considered at a meeting of the committee "within the next two to three weeks".

Competition governing body SANZAAR announced Sunday that the annual Super Rugby competition will be trimmed from 18 teams to 15 from next season.Could it be a case of last in, first out for the Kings? Photo: Getty ImagesSouth Africa loses two sides while Australia must dump either the Melbourne Rebels or the Perth-based Western Force.

Dwindling crowds and TV audiences and public and media dissatisfaction over the format and one-sided matches were among the reasons given for downsizing.

The South African franchises are the Bulls (Pretoria), Cheetahs (Bloemfontein), Kings (Port Elizabeth), Lions (Johannesburg), Sharks (Durban) and Stormers (Cape Town).

Media speculation has been near unanimous in predicting that the Cheetahs and Kings would drop out as they have the poorest playing records and lowest attendances.

Media reports have suggested that it could be late June before a decision is made on which teams to ditch.

From 2018, four South African franchises and the Argentine Jaguares will form a conference.

Another section consists of the existing five New Zealand teams while the Japanese Sunwolves join four Australian sides in the other group.