SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has expressed his disappointment after confirmation that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup will not have cross-hemisphere fixtures.
Despite a colossal effort, the South African teams were not granted the permission to travel in time to allow the Rainbow Cup to be played as originally planned.
PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby will instead operate dual tournaments with no cross-hemisphere fixtures.
The ‘southern’ tournament will be called Rainbow Cup SA and will feature fixtures between the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions.
Roux said in a statement on Wednesday, that SA Rugby had tried all available options – even basing the team in the Middle East – but had run out of time to get everything organised.
‘This is a huge disappointment, but time had simply run out,’ Roux said.
‘No stone was left unturned to try and find a solution to the challenges – including basing our teams for 10 days in locations in the Middle East or Europe. But the pieces of the jigsaw would not fall into place in time to allow us to put those plans into action.’
Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said the process had only strengthened its relationship with SA Rugby.
‘A staggering volume of work has been undertaken to provide a number of proposals and options to accommodate this – all as we navigated the challenges of the second and third waves of Covid-19 as well as the South African variant, which constantly changed the landscape we were operating in.
‘Among our unions, our own staff and SA Rugby there is no more that could have been asked in terms of designing plans that were medically sound, however, there has been no perfect solution found in time to allow for South African teams’ entry into our territories.
‘Whilst the outcome is clearly different from what we had intended, our relationship and partnership with SA Rugby have been greatly strengthened and enhanced by this experience. We are looking forward to the two Rainbow Cup competitions and in due course sharing our intentions about our future partnership that will be boosted by the experiences and project planning involved to this point ahead of the 2021-22 season.’
The full fixture schedule for the Rainbow Cup, including kick-off times and broadcaster information, will be released shortly.
The decision will have no impact on the long-term partnership between PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby and more details about those plans and league structure for the groundbreaking 2021-22 season onwards will be made public shortly.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images