Planning at 'advanced stage' to give maligned Rainbow Cup a proper showpiece final
SA Rugby have confirmed that the maligned Rainbow Cup will have a cross-hemisphere final next month after the tournament’s original plan to have all four South African franchises fly to Europe this month for three rounds of regular-season matches was scrapped.
The 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season wrapped up early in March in the hope that the pandemic travel restrictions would sufficiently clear to enable the one-off Rainbow Cup feature cross-hemisphere games featuring the Stormers, Lions, Bulls and Sharks.
Those four South African franchises are set to take part in an expanded PRO16 next season and the Rainbow was seen as a dress-rehearsal tournament. However, that plan was abandoned, resulting in North and South conferences that for instance in Ireland and Wales began with a series of local derbies before some inter-country games later this month.
It was feared these split tournaments wouldn’t be able to enjoy a joined-up finale but organisers now insist there will be a showpiece playoff held in Europe between the winners of the northern and southern conferences.
A media statement read: “The Rainbow Cup is set to culminate in a historic North vs South final on June 19 so that the dual tournaments operating in Europe and South Africa will tie together to produce one winner.
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“Planning is now at an advanced stage and all written approvals are expected imminently for the game to take place at a European venue. At this stage in the process, it was important for teams, their fans, broadcasters and sponsors to hear of these developments ahead of this weekend’s Rainbow Cup games in Europe and South Africa.
“The northern representative in the final shall be the team who finishes first in the table among the twelve teams in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup, while the southern representative shall be the side who ranks first in the Rainbow Cup SA competition. Further details on the final will be provided next week.”
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