Rainbow Cup in doubt
BREAKING NEWS: The much-vaunted Rainbow Cup may be put on the back-burner.
It was confirmed last month that the cross-border competition is scheduled to kick off on April 24 and run through to the June 19 Final.
It is meant to feature the Pro14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, as well as South Africa’s four Super franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers.
While the first three rounds are scheduled to feature domestic derbies, rounds four to six will see the South African teams face their European counterparts.
However, @rugby365com can reveal that the South African franchises were told this past week not to proceed with their visa applications.
It is believed there are problems with clearance from the English government.
While no English teams will feature in the Rainbow Cup, the four SA teams were to be based in a bio-bubble in Bristol and then commute to their games in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy.
Clearance has been obtained from most of the governments, but there are issues with the Bristol base.
Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s Director of Rugby, and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber, had hoped to use the Rainbow Cup as part of their preparation for the British and Irish Lions tour in July and August.
However, should they fail to salvage the Rainbow Cup, it will result in the SA teams playing in a domestic Franchise Cup competition.
The spin-off of a cancelled Rainbow Cup – apart from the melancholy and joylessness of another domestic competition – is the loss of television income for the SA franchises.
It could even result in another round of salary cuts for players in the cash-strapped SA franchises.
The only hope is that the equally penurious national body, SA Rugby, can still salvage the Rainbow Cup and get some much-needed international television income.