Mon 22 Feb 2021 | 10:46

Rainbow Cup: The Irish teams

Rainbow Cup: The Irish teams
Mon 22 Feb 2021 | 10:46
Rainbow Cup: The Irish teams
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Here is a short look at the Pro14 clubs the South African teams will face during the “Rainbow Cup” competition later this year

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The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers are set to join the current Pro14 clubs to contest the Rainbow Cup – scheduled to kick off on April 17 and will conclude with a final on June 19.

Each South African team will go on a three-match tour to Europe in the tournament, while all 12 Pro14 clubs will play in South Africa.

The teams are from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.

Here is a look at all the Ireland teams in the ‘Rainbow Cup’:

Leinster:

The most successful Irish team both domestically and in European competition.

They are the current Pro14 title holders and are also this season’s Conference A log-leaders.

Leo Cullen, the current Leinster head coach, captained the province to three Champions Cup titles in his playing days, and also represented Ireland in 32 Tests.

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Ireland stars Shane Horgan (69 tries), Brian O’Driscoll (61) and Gordon D’Arcy (60) have scored the most tries in a Leinster jersey, while D’Arcy also holds the record for the most caps for the Irish province, with 261 caps.

Home ground: RDS Arena, Dublin
Coach: Leo Cullen

*Article continues below…

Munster

Known as the ‘Red Army’ Munster have been the only real threat to Leinster’s superiority in Ireland.

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They have won the Champions Cup in 2006 and 2008 and reached the Champions Cup quarterfinals for a record 17th time, and a record 13th European Cup semifinal in 2018.

Munster were the only Irish side to defeat the All Blacks up to November 2016 – when Ireland beat New Zealand in Chicago – after famously defeating the Kiwis 12-0 in Thomond Park in 1978.

Munster have a deep love and respect for South African rugby. They have been coached by current South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus between 2016 and 2018, while fellow South African Johann van Graan is now the man in charge.

Home ground(s): Thomond Park (Limerick), Irish Independent Park (Cork)
Coach: Johann van Graan

South Africans: Damian De Allende, CJ Stander, RG Snyman, Chris Cloete, Jean Kleyn

*Article continues below…

Ulster

Ulster won the Pro14 title in 2005/06 and were runners up on three occasions (2003/04, 2012/13 and 2019/20

Former Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, a stalwart at Ulster for many seasons before returning to South Africa recently, holds the club record for the most conversions, with 114.

Recently retired Ulster star Tommy Bowe is the top try scorer in Celtic League / PRO12 / 14 history, with 65 tries.

Home ground: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Coach: Dan McFarland

South Africans: Marcell Coetzee, Rob Herring, Louis Ludik

*Article continues below…

Connacht

Certainly, the odd one out when it comes to the four Irish sides.

At the onset of the professional era, the IRFU designated Connacht as a development team, meaning the team received only half the budget of the other Irish provinces.

Since then Connacht are no longer as far behind in funding, they do still have a smaller playing population compared to the other provinces and struggle to hold onto high-profile players.

However, Connacht have been surviving and find themselves second in this season’s conference B table.

In the build-up to the 2007 World Cup in France, the Springboks played a warm-up match against Connacht, winning 18-3 with Ashwin Willemse and Jacques Cronje scoring tries.

Former Connacht captain John Muldoon made 327 appearances for the club before his retirement in May 2018.

Home ground: The Sportsground, Galway
Coach: Andy Friend

South African: Quinn Roux

Compiled by Leezil Hendricks
@Leezil07
@rugby365com

*Additional Source: SA Rugby

PV: 40
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Rainbow Cup: The Irish teams | Rugby365