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Surprise venue chosen for next month's cross-hemisphere final of the maligned Rainbow Cup

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Treviso’s Stadio di Monigo will play host to the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup North vs South final on June 19. Having had the original plan scratched to host cross-hemisphere fixtures from round four onwards this month, tournament organisers opted to keep going with regionalised through to the end of round six before staging a one-off final where the winners of the South African conference will next month travel north to play the winners of the European conference.

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Italian side Benetton are currently on top of the European conference with three wins from their three outings and with games to come at home to Connacht and away to Ospreys, there is now the potential for them to go through their five-match campaign unbeaten and play in the final at their own home ground.

A PRO14 statement read: “A maximum of one thousand fans should be admitted under current Italian regulations so that they can be part of this historic occasion. Since announcing a dual tournament approach to the Rainbow Cup on April 21, PRO14 began exploring the feasibility of hosting a final in Europe between the top-ranked teams from each competition.

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“The support and encouragement received by the Italian Federation and from Italy’s sports department allowed PRO14 to put forward proposals to stage the game in Treviso in a short space of time.

“The venue was the clear choice in Italy as an existing Guinness PRO14 stadium that has tried and tested Covid-19 protocols and infrastructures in place. The proximity of local airports, and the European teams’ familiarity with the site, also favoured this selection.”

PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi added: “We are incredibly grateful to our friends and colleagues in Italian rugby for their role in creating this opportunity to host the North vs South Rainbow Cup final. “In a very short space of time, we have been able to find a terrific way to tie the two tournaments together as originally envisaged and provide a glimpse of the future as the top team from the existing Guinness PRO14 meets the best that South Africa has to offer.

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“When the cross-hemisphere fixtures were removed from the original Rainbow Cup schedule due to travel restrictions our disappointment was matched by our clubs, their fans and our broadcasters. However, our team has worked hard to reconfigure the competition with this historic final and we can now deliver on the unique excitement that the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup originally promised.

“We offer our thanks to everyone in Italy and the FIR involved in making this possibility a reality and we look forward to what will be a truly unique occasion in the history of our league.”

FIR president Marzio Innocenti said: “To host the Rainbow Cup final in our country is a huge recognition of the big efforts we put into restarting Italian rugby safely and shows how PRO14 is confident in what Italian rugby is capable of achieving on and off the playing field. We have developed a sound and trusted relationship with PRO14’s governance, and it is crucial to keep on developing both the competition and Italian rugby in the years to come.”

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Surprise venue chosen for next month's cross-hemisphere final of the maligned Rainbow Cup

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