PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that SA Rugby has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.
SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.
Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.
Meanwhile, the Guinness PRO14 will break new ground as it introduces prime-time Monday Night Rugby to its schedule for the upcoming 2020/21 season.
With the new campaign less than two weeks away, dates and times have been confirmed for the first eight weeks of action.
The first Monday night game will occur in Round 3 when Munster host Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park on October 26 as the Guinness PRO14 enters the week day prime-time market with a 20h15 kick-off slot.
In total, 14 Monday night fixtures will take place between Rounds 3 and 8 with scheduling aimed at preventing direct clashes with the extended international calendar, allowing fans to put their full support behind club and country.
With the finale of the Guinness Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup taking place from October through to early December, the majority of Guinness PRO14 fixtures during this time will take place on Sundays and Mondays. Where possible, Monday night fixtures have been set across two time slots of 18h00 and 20h15 (both UK/IRE).
Rounds 9, 10 and 11 of the Guinness PRO14 will feature the fierce derby matches across the UK, Ireland and Italy and the scheduling for those games will occur in due course.
Dominic McKay, Chairman of PRO14 Rugby, said: “Thanks to the buy-in and support from our teams and broadcasters we believe we have delivered an innovative solution to the challenges posed to us by the international rugby calendar. Playing on Monday nights provides the Guinness PRO14 with a unique platform in the rugby market and enables us to make the most of playing through such a busy time for our sport.
“The task of assembling these fixtures in such a short space of time have been immense given the parameters involved and I’d like to thank Tournament Director David Jordan and his team for their tireless work to get us to this point.”
Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said: “In a time of such uncertainty we are incredibly grateful to our broadcast partners and sponsors for their continued support. No business has been unaffected by the pandemic, but the team spirit and willingness displayed by our broadcasters, our title sponsor Guinness and partners such as Gilbert and Macron has really encouraging. Sport is as important as it ever has been in society, our partners recognise that and are keen to play a vital role in keeping rugby front and centre.”
Champions on the slate for Opening Night
The season itself will kick-off on Friday, October 2 with Parma hosting the first fixture of the 2020/21 season as Cardiff Blues travel to Italy (18h00) live on DAZN and Premier Sports.
This will be followed by Ulster’s home game with Benetton and defending champions Leinster will entertain Dragons in Dublin – both of those games will be live on eir Sport and Premier Sports with TG4 and S4C carrying Free-to-Air coverage of Leinster v Dragons.
Round 1 concludes on Saturday, October 3 with Scarlets taking on Munster (live on Premier Sports & eir Sport), Connacht hosting Glasgow Warriors (live on TG4, eir Sport and Premier Sports) and Edinburgh facing off against Ospreys (live on Premier Sports).
Full fixtures and kick-off times can be viewed at https://www.pro14.rugby/match-centre/2020/1
Scheduling and Format
The Guinness PRO14 Conferences will remain the same as for the 2019/20 season in keeping with the two-year rotation of the tables.
As a result of travel restrictions to and from South Africa due to COVID-19 restrictions, the first 11 games of the upcoming Guinness PRO14 season will feature European-based teams only. Plans are in place for South African teams to resume playing in 2021, but they will not be able to play a full schedule.
With the pandemic conditions varying across each of our competing territories the full fixture list cannot be published at this point.