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Provinces set to continue in Rainbow Cup without South African sides

The Stormers, Lions, Bulls, and Sharks are set to pull out of the competition.

Sharks and Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am.
Sharks and Springboks centre Lukhanyo Am.
Image: Photosport/Joe Allison/INPHO

THE FOUR SOUTH African teams are set to pull out of the new Rainbow Cup competition just days before it gets underway.

The Bulls, Stormers, Lions, and Sharks were due to play three rounds of domestic games against each other before potentially travelling to Europe to play against Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and Italian opposition.

The plans were always extremely optimistic amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh reports are now emerging from South Africa that their four teams may not be able to come to Europe due to travel restrictions.

It appears that the three planned rounds of inter-provincial fixtures in Ireland, as well as similar games in Wales, Scotland, and Italy, will continue as scheduled over the coming weeks.

The Irish teams may subsequently play three rounds of games against sides from Wales, Scotland, and Italy, before a Rainbow Cup final on 19 June – as currently scheduled.

That this competition may take place without the South African teams is a major disappointment, given that the 2020/21 Pro14 season – which consisted of just 12 teams – was cut short in order to facilitate the Rainbow Cup.

Leinster were crowned Pro14 champions after beating Munster in the final on 27 March.

Those same 12 teams – Munster, Leinster, Connacht, Ulster, Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Benetton, and Zebre – are now set to launch into a Rainbow Cup without any South African sides.

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It remains to be seen what the South African franchises do next. With the Springboks due to face the Lions this summer, their leading players will need competitive action.

SA Rugby is expected to make an official statement this afternoon. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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