The Stormers-Sharks and Bulls-Lions clashes are now set to take place next weekend in a local iteration of the Rainbow Cup, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
As reported by this website on Tuesday, South Africa’s involvement in the originally planned intercontinental Rainbow Cup was no longer feasible due to a lack of necessary travel clearances just days away from the scheduled kick-off.
The newly formed competition – featuring the four big South African franchises as well as teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – was originally set to start with the Stormers hosting the Sharks in Cape Town on Friday, while the Bulls were scheduled to welcome the Lions at Loftus on Saturday.
As reported by SARugbymag.co.za on Monday, though, South Africa’s teams had been stuck in a period of frustrating limbo as they awaited the fully fledged green light to head into the planned opening derby fixtures of the Rainbow Cup.
After meetings on Tuesday afternoon, it’s now set to be confirmed that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup won’t necessarily be scrapped, but it will certainly not be taking place as originally scheduled.
Teams in the northern hemisphere will continue to compete in a ‘North’ division of the Rainbow Cup, while South Africa’s sides will play from next weekend in a ‘South’ section.
It remains to be seen if there could still be an opportunity to make it a cross-hemisphere competition if South Africa’s sides are given the green light to travel down the line.
Originally, the PRO14 Rainbow Cup was set to include a total of six rounds (eight games per round) and was to feature all teams ranked in a single log. The top two teams were then poised play each other in a final on 19 June.