The Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup will not feature matches between European and South African sides due to ongoing travel issues caused by the pandemic.
Cross-over games between the current Pro14 sides and the incoming South African teams were set to take place after the first three rounds of the tournament, but those plans have now been abandoned.
No formal approvals were made which would allow the South African teams to travel to the UK and Ireland without having to quarantine, making those cross-hemisphere games unfeasible.
🚨 Statement on dual Rainbow Cup tournaments
Full details 👇#GuinnessPRO14RainbowCup
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) April 21, 2021
CEO of the Pro14 Martin Anayi said that a “staggering amount of work” had been undertaken in order to allow the tournament to proceed as planned, but a solution was ultimately not found.
“Whilst the outcome is clearly different from what we had intended, our relationship and partnership with SA Rugby has been greatly strengthened and enhanced by this experience,” Anayi explained.
“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.”
‘No stone was left unturned.’
South African Rugby CEO Jurie Roux admitted that the change of plan was a “huge disappointment” but explained that time had run out when it came to finding a solution.
“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,” Roux commented.
“But the pieces of the jigsaw would not fall into place in time to allow us to put those plans into action.”
🌈 Changes to the original plans for the Rainbow Cup
⛔ No cross-hemisphere fixtures for the four SA teams
🗣️ “No stone was left unturned to try and find a solution”
👉 Full story here: https://t.co/wYpUniv87P pic.twitter.com/73swn55osl
— Springboks (@Springboks) April 21, 2021
The first three rounds of the northern hemisphere edition of the Pro14 will proceed as planned, with further fixtures set to be released shortly.
The four South African teams will play home and away games among themselves, but exact details on those fixtures are yet to be announced.
The full incorporation of the four South African sides into the Pro16 for next season is still expected to take place, depending on the current climate in regards to the pandemic.