Stormers, Sharks, Bulls, Lions to play among themselves in Rainbow Cup SA
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DURBAN - The inability to gain permission for South African teams to enter Europe has torpedoed the Rainbow Cup in its original format and in its place the South African teams will play each home and away in a revised competition, Rainbow Cup SA.
This was formally announced by SA Rugby this morning, three days before the Rainbow Cup was meant to have kicked it off with the Stormers hosting the Sharks.
There will no matches this weekend and a fixture list will be released by SA Rugby “shortly”, but it is understood that the new competition will kick off on May 1, with the same round of fixtures that was supposed to happen this weekend.
The other match called off this weekend was the Lions’ visit to the Bulls.
SA Rugby said that “despite a colossal effort” the South African teams have not been granted permission to travel.
Instead, PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby will operate dual Rainbow Cup tournaments with no cross-hemisphere fixtures.
“Multiple options for the South African teams to travel safely to Europe and be based in the UK were explored but could not be put into practice due to the heightened restrictions caused by South Africa’s designation as a “red list” territory in terms of Cov id-19 risk,” an SA Rugby statement read.
The ‘northern’ PRO14 Rainbow Cup will still take place on the dates previously published with the fixtures involving the South African teams removed from the schedule and opponents receiving a bye week during either of Rounds 4, 5 or 6.
SA Rugby emphasised that this latest development will have no impact on the long-term partnership between PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby and more details about plans and a league structure for the 2021/22 season onwards will be made public shortly.
“This is a huge disappointment, but time had simply run out,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“No stone was left unturned to try and find a solution to the challenges – including basing our teams for 10 days in locations in the Middle East or Europe. But the pieces of the jigsaw would not fall into place in time to allow us to put those plans into action.”