Rainbow Cup: Tactical challenges await SA sides
NEW COMPETITION: The contrasting weather conditions to which the sides in the different hemispheres must adapt will provide interesting tactical challenges to coaches when the upcoming Rainbow Cup tournament kicks off in April.
Munster defence coach JP Ferreira conveyed the excitement that he has picked up from conversations with South African franchise coaches whose consensus is one of huge anticipation with the new Rainbow tournament which commences after the present abridged Pro 14 concludes in late March.
The new competition will include four Irish provinces, four Welsh, two Scottish and two Italian clubs along with newcomers to northern hemisphere competition, the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions.
It is then expected that the four South African franchises will form part of an enlarged Pro 16 from next season.
“There’s loads of excitement. The players are also looking forward to it,” said Ferreira this week. “It’s well received in South Africa. The TV numbers will spike. It’s not just the same product that they have been watching for the last couple of years and last couple of seasons, so on that front it’s going to be great.”
The former Lions defensive coach, who spent ten years with the Highveld franchise, believes hat the mere change of scenery will be welcomed by South Africa’s top four franchises, the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks, and the Stormers.
He points out that the British and Irish PRO14 sides have had experience of these new frontiers when they played the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings at home the last two Pro 14 competitions, but it is the turn now of South Africa’s quartet of leading to handle the disparities in temperature.
Ferreira pointed out that matters as routine as changing rooms, dwarfed in size against those back home, will be an eye-opener for the South African sides, as will visits to Rodney Parade, or the Sportsground on a wild night.
“It’s a bit of a change in scenery and I think that’s the exciting part. To compete in different conditions is going to be massive. Players are looking forward to it [and] I think it’s [been] well received in South Africa.”
He pointed to the fact that contrasting weather conditions in the hemispheres will provide interesting challenges, 32 degrees and sunny on the Highveld to the potentially rainier and softer underfoot conditions in Europe; pandemic permitting.
“You’re going from five degrees, wet and rainy, into 32 degrees and hard surfaces, so it’s going to need some tactics to watch the guys go over there and play. Then you’ve got the Highveld that also adds to it. It’s going to be exciting.”
The plan is that the South African newcomers join the club via the new Rainbow Cup which will consist of two pools of eight and kick off in mid-April and push through to mid-June.
SOURCES: Irish Examiner and Irish Times