It is expected that up to 1,000 fans could be in attendance for the Rainbow Cup final in Treviso, Italy on 19 June.
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A kick-off time will be confirmed soon for the game at the home ground of Benetton Rugby, which has undergone a number of developments in the past two years. A maximum of 1,000 fans should be admitted under current Italian regulations, so that they can be part of the historic occasion.
It will be the first time that a South African team plays in front of spectators since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic last year. The boost to morale that playing in front of a live audience will bring to the players cannot be underestimated.
Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, was delighted to have found a means to stage the historic final.
‘We are incredibly grateful to our friends and colleagues in Italian rugby for their role in creating this opportunity to host the North vs South Rainbow Cup final.
‘In a very short space of time we have been able to find a terrific way to tie the two tournaments together as originally envisaged and provide a glimpse of the future as the top team from the existing Guinness PRO14 meets the best that South Africa has to offer.
‘When the cross-hemisphere fixtures were removed from the original Rainbow Cup schedule due to travel restrictions our disappointment was matched by our clubs, their fans and our broadcasters.
‘However, our team has worked hard to reconfigure the competition with this historic final and we can now deliver on the unique excitement that the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup originally promised.’
As the vaccine rollout continues in Europe, some sporting events have had the gradual reintroduction of crowds. The British & Irish Lions are set to face Japan at Murrayfield, Edinburgh in front of 16,000 fans.
In South Africa the situation is less clear. SA Rugby is still working with government to ensure at least some fan attendance for the upcoming Lions series, though this remains doubtful.
It is hoped that the Rainbow Cup final will show it is possible to stage a Covid-19-secure large-crowd event in an open-air stadium.
Further details on the ‘North vs South’ Guinness Rainbow Cup final will be provided in due course and the game will be available live across existing broadcasters in the tournament’s core territories and international markets.