The real attraction of Rainbow Cup's opener
SPOTLIGHT: The opening match of the Rainbow Cup will be a fascinating affair – for many reasons.
For some, it will be just another local derby – a staple of South Africans since the COVID-19-enforce lockdown in March 2020.
However, it is the return of several key World Cup-winning Springboks that will give this game a special allure.
As @rugby365com reported last month, the Rainbow Cup will be used as part of the Springboks’ preparations for the arrival of the British and Irish Lions in July.
Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s Director of Rugby, has requested that all available Springboks play throughout the Rainbow Cup.
And the Cape Town Stadium on Friday looks set to put on display one of the most intriguing face-offs since rugby returned in late 2020.
We could see a duel between Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and his World Cup-winning teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The last time these two Boks appeared on the same rugby pitch was on 1 February 2020 – Round One of Super Rugby.
In that match, won 27-0 by the Stormers, Kolisi suffered a grade three medial collateral ligament injury, after a late hit by Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli in an off-the-ball incident.
Just over a year later Kolisi moved to Durban in a much-publicised move as part of American consortium MVM’s deal with the Durban franchise.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) April 16, 2021
Du Toit, linked to a move to Japan after the B&I Lions tour, suffered a horror injury just four weeks after Kolisi’s setback in February last year.
The 28-year-old has been under the knife three times since he suffered an acute compartment syndrome injury – following a knock to his thigh in the encounter with the Blues at Newlands in 29 February 2020.
The recovery has been a slow and uncertain process, with concerns that a lack of muscle regeneration might end his career.
At one stage the Stormers team doctor revealed there was a risk of possible amputation, as Du Toit injury was so severe.
However, the World Rugby Player of the Year is set to return to feature for the Stormers this week.
Both the Stormers and Sharks are only set to name their teams late in the week, but on the instructions of the national coaching staff both are set to feature at the Cape Town Stadium – going head-to-head in and absorbing face-off.
Another possible Springbok face-off in the opening round is Steven Kitshoff (Stormers) against Thomas du Toit (Sharks) in the front row.
Then there are the Sevens showdowns – The Stormers’ BlitzBok duo of Seabelo Senatla and Ruhan Nel, with Werner Kok in the Sharks camp.
There is certainly plenty to enthuse about.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) April 19, 2021