The Rainbow Cup

7 February 2021 | ,

The Rainbow Cup is a new competition and will follow the Guinness Pro14 once the final concludes in March. This 16 team tournament will pave the way for the four new South African sides who will join an expanded Guinness PRO16 in the 2021/2022 season. The South African “Super” sides are the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers. The tournament will kick off on the 17th of April. And will take place across April and June with the final on 19 June. The Rainbow Cup includes the 12 European teams that compete in the PRO14 from Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales.

The Tournament

The tournament will consist of two pools of eight teams. There are two South African, two Irish, two Welsh, one Italian and one Scottish side in a pool. The team that finish top of their pool will face off in the final. Each team will play one game against each pool opponent. This will be a different ball game to Super Rugby. It will be tough, highly competitive and a learning curve for coaches and players as stated by Jacques Nienaber. Each and every player from the “Super” rugby teams will have to dig deep and be ready for a challenge. One thing we know is that South African players do not shy away but invite new challenges. Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby and former Springbok coach welcomes the new competition.

The Pandemic

Are you wondering where you can follow the action? Fans will be able to watch it all unfold with Super Sport right through until the last kick of the ball in June. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the rugby season across the globe. Australia and New Zealand have been able to bounce back quicker than South Africa but we are hopeful the powers that be will be more kind in 2021. This is unfortunately an unprecedented time and everyone hopes to pack the stadiums full again in support of all their rugby teams. The pandemic was the main reason that prevented the Cheetahs and Southern Kings from taking part in the Guinness PRO14 2020/2021. The Kings terminated operations in September 2020. With the Kings out, SA Rugby had to explore entering the 4 Super rugby teams.

Rainbow Cup Venues and final 

Many of you are wondering where the final will take place and which venues The Rainbow Cup will be played at. For the final the Pool winner with the highest total of match day points won will have the honor to host the final. If by some fluke or miracle both pool winners have the same amount of points, the deciding factor will be the number of games won. 

Why the Guinness PRO14 is accommodating a competition with the SA teams

As most of us have seen in the news, the Welsh are not too keen that SA has been added to The Rainbow Cup. Most of these comments have come from fans which means they are none the wiser on the reasons behind the decision. So let’s educate them. SA Rugby has been a valued partner and participant in the Guinness PRO14 since 2017. Thus PRO14 Rugby is eager to support a key stakeholder. Especially ahead of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour. South Africa face the possibility of no international club fixtures in order to prepare for this greatly significant Test series. 

The South African ex-Super sides will be reintroduced to competition in the Rainbow Cup. This will offer the British & Irish players a rare opportunity to test themselves against the Springboks. And consequently fans will enjoy a build-up to a highly anticipated Lions tour. One game away in South Africa will be played by the European teams. Three away games in Europe will be required by each SA Super team. One trip to Europe will fall over two and a half weeks where all these fixtures will occur. 

In conclusion, this is a BIG win for South African fans! Exiting the Rugby Championships was not ideal but had to be done. We look forward to this exciting and extraordinary tournament and support our Super teams all the way.

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