The Guinness Pro14 and South Africa rugby have confirmed that the four South African ‘Super’ teams: the Vodacom Bulls; Emirates Lions; Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers, will join the league in April. The current Pro14 campaign will now end in March before the existing Pro14 clubs finish the season with a 16-team ‘Rainbow Cup’ competition ahead of the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

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The Rainbow Cup will kick-off on April 17, after the current Pro14 campaign concludes following 16 rounds and a final, to be played in late March, between the two Pro14 conference winners.

The Rainbow Cup competition will comprise of two pools of 8 teams, made up of two Irish, two South African, two Welsh, one Italian and one Scottish club.

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Each team will play one game against each pool opponent. The teams that finish top of their pools will then play each other in a final, pencilled in for June 19. A venue for the Rainbow Cup final has not yet been decided.

A Pro14 statement read: “Ahead of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will provide a ground-breaking spectacle for fans who will see international star players from north and south establish new rivalries in their bid for the ultimate Test selection.

“Across 57 matches, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will feature the best of the Springbok talent going toe-to-toe with some of the British & Irish Lions’ biggest names – every one of them keen to lay down a marker to their respective selectors ahead of what will prove to be an historic tour.”

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A full Q&A explaining the new competition can be found here.

Martin Anayi, CEO, PRO14 Rugby said: “At a time where our sport has faced its greatest challenge, we have promising news about an innovative solution to partner with South African rugby ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour.

“It was vital that we worked with all parties to ensure our 12 teams had a clear road towards European qualification. With a Lions tour in South Africa to come it is hard to think of anything better to whet the appetite than the best players from the Celtic regions competing against World Cup-winning Springboks in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.”

Jurie Roux, CEO, SA Rugby added: “The inclusion of South Africa’s ‘Super’ Teams in the Rainbow Cup is a once-in-a-generation, watershed moment for South African rugby. After so much turmoil and uncertainty in 2020, the prospect of a return to top-flight international domestic competition is one to which we all can all look forward with real excitement.”

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