South Africa’s teams have been stuck in a period of frustrating limbo as they await the fully fledged green light to head into this weekend’s planned opening derby fixtures of the Rainbow Cup, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Just over a week ago it first emerged that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup, due to kick off this Friday, was in some jeopardy after South Africa’s four participating teams were told to suspend their visa applications.
SARugbymag.co.za compiled a comprehensive set of information from several sources, and the unfortunate sentiment related to increasing concern that there would not be the necessary clearance to travel abroad for the ‘away’ leg of the competition.
And now, just days away from the tournament getting under way, there has still not been firm clarity over this overseas trip, which undoubtedly impacts on the local leg.
Last week, there was a glimmer of hope for the competition when kick-off times and dates for the first three rounds were confirmed, with the Stormers and Sharks scheduled to open the tournament in Cape Town on 23 April.
Yet, this website has learned that travelling teams have still been waiting to receive the definitive go-ahead to book their travel and accommodation.
The Sharks were set to travel to Cape Town, while on Saturday the Vodacom Bulls were scheduled to host the Lions.
Sources have described the period of waiting as ‘incredibly frustrating’, ‘absolute chaos’ and ‘terrible times’ as a result of the lack of certainty, and constantly shifting goal posts.
It’s expected that much-needed clarity and confirmation may only be received on Tuesday.
Previously it was stated that confirmation of the planned matches for rounds four to six would hopefully follow once PRO14 Rugby has received all necessary approvals and permissions from the relevant governments and health authorities for the South African teams to travel.
Below are the previously announced kick-off details for the planned opening rounds of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup.
FIXTURES: FIRST THREE ROUNDS
(SA teams’ fixtures in italics, all kick-offs SA local time)
Friday, 23 April
7pm: DHL Stormers vs Cell C Sharks (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
9:15pm: Edinburgh vs Zebre (BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
9:15pm: Ulster vs Connacht (Kingspan Stadium, Belfast)
Saturday, 24 April
2pm: Benetton vs Glasgow Warriors (Stadio de Monigo, Treviso)
4pm: Vodacom Bulls vs Emirates Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
6:15pm: Ospreys vs Cardiff Blues (Liberty Stadium, Swansea)
8:35pm: Leinster vs Munster (RDS Arena, Dublin)
Sunday, 25 April
2pm: Dragons vs Scarlets (Rodney Parade, Newport)
Friday, 30 April
7pm: Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
Saturday, 1 May
5pm: DHL Stormers vs Vodacom Bulls (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
Friday, 7 May
7pm: Zebre vs Benetton (Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma)
9:15pm: Munster vs Ulster (Thomond Park, Limerick)
9:15pm: Glasgow Warriors vs Edinburgh (Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow)
Saturday, 8 May
8:35pm: Connacht vs Leinster (The Sportsground, Galway)
8:35pm: Scarlets vs Ospreys (Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli)
Sunday, 9 May
2pm: Cardiff Blues vs Dragons (Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff)
Saturday, 8 May
4pm: Emirates Lions vs DHL Stormers (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
6:15pm: Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Friday, 14 May
7pm: Munster vs Connacht (Thomond Park, Limerick)
9:15pm: Leinster vs Ulster (RDS Arena, Dublin)
Saturday, 15 May
4pm: Scarlets vs Cardiff Blues (Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli)
6:15pm: Benetton vs Zebre (Stadio de Monigo, Treviso)
8:35pm: Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors (BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
Sunday, 16 May
4pm: Dragons vs Ospreys (Rodney Parade, Newport)
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images