South African visa issues threaten Rainbow Cup

The Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers have been told not to proceed with their visa applications

Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van Der Walts is tackled by Ryan Wilson of Glasgow Warriors. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Edinburgh stand-off Jaco van Der Walts is tackled by Ryan Wilson of Glasgow Warriors. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE viability of the Rainbow Cup has been shaken by reports that the four South African franchises which are meant to compete alongside current PRO14 teams are being forced to withdraw from the tournament.

The Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers have apparently been told not to proceed with their visa applications due to current travel restrictions between South Africa and England.

Covid concerns meant that the South African franchises were going to stay at home and play against each other during the first three rounds of the competition, before being based in Bristol and commuting to their games in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Italy for rounds four to six, but it appears that this plan will not be sanctioned by Westminster.


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“Clearance has been obtained from most of the governments, but there are issues with the Bristol base,” reported the Rugby365 website.

“We have little information at this stage, but it seems to be the case that the Rainbow Cup will be cancelled,” said Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee.

Cancelling the Rainbow Cup – which has been organised as a one-off ‘bridge’ tournament to run from mid-April to mid-June ahead of the four South African franchises joining the PRO14 next season – would have significant financial implications and also deprive British and Irish Lions hopefuls of valuable game-time ahead of this summer’s tour (planned for South Africa).

So, it seems likely that the PRO14 will forge ahead with the competition in some sort of abbreviated format, even though the withdrawal of the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers will heavily diminish its appeal and credibility.

There has been no update yet from PRO14 or Scottish Rugby.


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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.