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'It's almost like shamelessly going wherever the money is': Ex-Wales captain's withering put-down of disastrous PRO14/Rainbow Cup

By Liam Heagney

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This week’s build-up to the launch of the new Rainbow Cup has been disastrous and it has now resulted in ex-Cardiff Blues back row Sam Warburton, the two-tour Lions captain and long-time Wales skipper, slamming the direction the PRO14 has taken by inviting in even more South African sides.


Ahead of next season’s expanded Guinness PRO16, the current dozen PRO14 clubs were set to take part in a one-off cup competition that would feature cross-hemisphere matches in late May/early June against the four ex-Super Rugby franchised being brought into the fold by the clubs in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

Those three rounds of cross-over matches, though, along with a finals weekend have now been cancelled after tournament organisers admitted defeat in trying to bring the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls and Lions to Europe despite the ongoing pandemic.

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Wales out-half Dan Biggar compared the Premiership to the PRO14 on RugbyPass All Access

Due to the initial planning for the Rainbow Cup, the PRO14 opted to cut short its regular season with twelve teams minus the axed Cheetahs and Kings, and an all-Irish final was contested between Leinster and Munster in Dublin at the end of March rather than that tournament continuing through to June as will happen with the rival Gallagher Premiership and Top 14 competitions.

However, that decision to cut short the regular season has been left looking embarrassingly rash due to the Rainbow Cup farce that now won’t see the South African teams play against their European counterparts, resulting in a hurriedly revised fixtures schedule.

Ex-Blues forward Warburton is tired with the whole scene and feels the PRO14 has taken a wrong turn in trying to add even more South African teams to its list of participants. “I’m not going to lie, the whole PRO14/Rainbow Cup has turned into a mishmash competition,” he said. 


“You need to keep domestic leagues. Ideally, I would have it as just a Celtic League. The Italian teams should go into the French league. It would be much better for them and I think they would agree with me. Keep it to how it used to be [just Irish, Scottish and Welsh teams prior to 2010/11]. 

“Obviously the ideal situation would be to have a British and Irish League but the brutal fact is that England doesn’t need Celtic teams. But the PRO14 is changing every year and it’s almost like shamelessly going wherever the money is, not where the best quality of the product is going to be. Personally, I’d much rather watch Welsh teams play each other, Irish teams play each other. That would make better games to be honest.”

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'It's almost like shamelessly going wherever the money is': Ex-Wales captain's withering put-down of disastrous PRO14/Rainbow Cup