'Stay home' teams will have their own rainbow
SPOTLIGHT: Now that the domestic Preparation Series is complete, South Africa’s focus will be on the Rainbow Cup. However, there are plans for ‘alternatives’.
It was confirmed this past Friday that the Rainbow Cup will kick off on April 24 and run through to the June 19 Final.
It features the Pro14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, as well as South Africa’s four Super franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers.
The other Preparation teams – Cheetahs, Griquas, Pumas and Eastern Province Elephants – are now waiting on SA Rugby to finalise plans for the ‘stay home’ teams.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie spoke about “working on options”, but added that nothing has been finalised.
“We have had a meeting with SA Rugby and there is a plan for the teams that don’t play in the Rainbow Cup,” he said.
“We know when those matches will take place and we can plan accordingly.”
Fourie also played down suggestions they will release players for the Rainbow Cup teams.
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As has been the case the past year, things can change dramatically in a week or two and any COVID spike could still prevent the Rainbow Cup from going ahead.
He said there is an alternative option if the Rainbow Cup is suddenly cancelled.
“If [the] Rainbow Cup doesn’t happen, then we will play in a franchise Cup, but if Rainbow Cup does go ahead we will play in a different competition – which SA Rugby is working on currently,” Fourie said.
He revealed that they are not going to release any of their players to Rainbow Cup franchises, as they will require those players in the alternative competition that SA Rugby is planning.
There was a suggestion that veteran, two-time World Cup-winning Springbok utility back Frans Steyn should be ‘loaned’ to one of the Rainbow Cup teams to allow him to prepare for the British and Irish Lions.
However, the Cheetahs will utilise their players in whatever domestic competition they play.
Speaking about his team’s 71-12 demolition of the Eastern Province Elephants, Fourie said he was disappointed with the high number of penalties his team conceded.
The Cheetahs were penalised 17 times and issued a yellow card, despite outscoring the Elephants by 11 tries to two.
“I spoke to the referee [Rasta after the game,” Fourie said, adding: “I felt, at the breakdown, there was a lot of 50-50 calls.
“That made things difficult for us.
“If you score 71 points and then concede 17 penalties, something doesn’t make sense to me.
He said his team will take a short break and return after the Easter weekend – on April 7.