SA Rugby: Rainbow Cup not cancelled

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has reassured fans that they are exploring every possible avenue to ensure that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup happens.

Doubts arose over the Rainbow Cup proceeding as planned when South Africa’s four franchises were told to halt their visa applications last week.

The competition – in which the Vodacom Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers will take on the PRO14 sides – is a key part of the plans to ensure South African players are ready for the British & Irish Lions tour when it swings around in July.

Originally, the plan was to have the South African franchises face each other in three weeks of local derbies from 24 April before they based themselves in a bio-bubble in Bristol for the ‘overseas leg’ of the tournament from 29 May to 12 June.

However, the British government has not given the franchises the necessary clearance to base themselves in Bristol.

Speaking to Independent Media, Alexander said all hope is not lost when it comes to the competition’s future.

‘No one has cancelled the Rainbow Cup,’ Alexander said. ‘We are looking at every possible scenario to stage the SA teams’ overseas matches.

‘We are in negotiations with all authorities, locally and in the UK, to have the games take place as scheduled. We are fighting hard for the Rainbow Cup to go ahead.

‘But at the moment, the decision is really outside rugby’s ambit. It is at government level, as there is currently a travel ban on South Africans entering the UK.

‘They have said they are monitoring the situation here.’

Negotiations are then said to be continuing in the hope of finding a contingency plan for South Africa’s teams to still be able to travel north for rounds four to six.

PRO14 Rugby is reported to have identified a number of possible UK bases for the four South African teams, and that there is still hope of a government exemption being made to accommodate the SA sides.

Photo: Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack