South African sides to join 'Rainbow Cup' after Pro14 concludes in March

The new competition will kick-off in April after the 2020/21 Pro14 final in March.

The Pro14 final will take place in March 2021.
The Pro14 final will take place in March 2021.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

PRO14 RUGBY HAS confirmed that the current Guinness Pro14 season will conclude in March 2021 before the four new South African franchises join for a 16-team ‘Rainbow Cup’ from April through into June.

The Lions, Stormers, Sharks, and Bulls of South African will officially make the move to European rugby for the Rainbow Cup, a competition that will provide preparation for the Springboks’ Test series against the touring British and Irish Lions. 

Before that, the 2020/21 Pro14 champions will be crowned in a final on 27 March.

The winners of Conference A and Conference B will play off in that final after 16 rounds of regular-season action. The conference winner with the highest total of match-day points won will host the final.

Qualification for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup in the 2021/22 season will be decided by the Pro14 rankings after those 16 rounds.

Following the 2020/21 Pro14 final, the new Rainbow Cup will consist of a pool stage [two pools of eight teams] and a final between the two pool winners.

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Each pool of eight teams will be made up of two Irish, two South African, two Welsh, one Italian, and one Scottish club. Each team will play one game against each pool opponent.

The Rainbow Cup will be broadcast by current Pro14 partners eir Sport and TG4 in Ireland. 

“At a time where our sport has faced its greatest challenge, we have promising news about an innovative solution to partner with South African rugby ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour,” said Pro14 Rugby CEO Martin Anayi.

“It was vital that we worked with all parties to ensure our 12 teams had a clear road towards European qualification. With a Lions tour in South Africa to come it is hard to think of anything better to whet the appetite than the best players from the Celtic regions competing against World Cup-winning Springboks in the Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup.” 

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