Good news for South African rugby fans is that the Rainbow Cup is going ahead – at least for the first three rounds of competition.
CAPE TOWN – Good news for South African rugby fans is that the Rainbow Cup is going ahead – at least for the first three rounds of competition.
SA Rugby announced on Tuesday that the Stormers and Sharks will open the tournament at the Cape Town Stadium on April 23 (7pm kick-off), while the Bulls will host the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on April 24 (4pm).
The confirmation of the first few rounds comes against the background of great uncertainty surrounding the competition, which sees South Africa’s former Super Rugby franchises joining forces with the European PRO Rugby tournament.
The full version, the PRO16, has been tentatively set for October, with the Rainbow Cup the precursor that will assist the SA teams in getting used to the northern-hemisphere sides, while also providing valuable game time before the British and Irish Lions tour to Mzansi in July and August.
But following weekend media reports of the Rainbow Cup in danger of being cancelled – due to the UK government’s reluctance to grant visas to the SA players to be based in a Bristol bio-bubble, due to Covid-19 protocols – SA Rugby president Mark Alexander told IOL Sport that the organisation was exploring every possible avenue to make the event happen.
That includes looking at alternative bio-bubble locations, with Jersey, Dublin, Dubai and Qatar being considered for the last three rounds, which will see the South African teams play in Europe.
“Confirmation of the planned matches for rounds four to six will follow once PRO14 Rugby has received all necessary approvals and permissions from the relevant governments and health authorities for the South African teams to travel,” the SA Rugby’s statement read.
At least now there is some certainty for the first three rounds, and all first-round games will be broadcast live on SuperSport, as well as the other overseas PRO14 network of broadcasters – Premier Sports, eir Sport and DAZN, with S4C and TG4 showing live free-to-air matches, deferred coverage and highlights throughout the Rainbow Cup.
Rainbow Cup Fixtures (all SA times)
Friday, 23 April
19h00: Stormers v Sharks (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
21h15: Edinburgh v Zebre (BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
21h15: Ulster v Connacht (Kingspan Stadium, Belfast)
Saturday, 24 April
14h00: Benetton v Glasgow Warriors (Stadio de Monigo, Treviso)
16h00: Bulls v Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
18h15: Ospreys v Cardiff Blues (Liberty Stadium, Swansea)
20h35: Leinster v Munster (RDS Arena, Dublin)
Sunday, 25 April
14h00: Dragons v Scarlets (Rodney Parade, Newport)
Friday, 30 April
19h00: Sharks v Lions (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
Saturday, 1 May
17h00: Stormers v Bulls (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
Friday, 7 May
19h00: Zebre v Benetton (Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma)
21h15: Munster v Ulster (Thomond Park, Limerick)
21h15: Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh (Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow)
Saturday, 8 May
20h35: Connacht v Leinster (The Sportsground, Galway)
20h35: Scarlets v Ospreys (Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli)
Sunday, 9 May
14h00: Cardiff Blues v Dragons (Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff)
Saturday, 8 May
16h00: Lions v Stormers (Airline Park, Johannesburg)
18h15: Bulls v Sharks (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Friday, 14 May
19h00: Munster v Connacht (Thomond Park, Limerick)
21h15: Leinster v Ulster (RDS Arena, Dublin)
Saturday, 15 May
16h00: Scarlets v Cardiff Blues (Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli)
18h15: Benetton v Zebre (Stadio de Monigo, Treviso)
20h35: Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors (BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh)
Sunday, 16 May
16h00: Dragons v Ospreys (Rodney Parade, Newport)