PRO14 and SA 'Super' sides form new Rainbow Cup
PRO14 Rugby today announced the current campaign will end in March to allow South Africa’s four ‘Super’ sides to join Celtic and Italian teams in a new 16-team 'Rainbow Cup' competition ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour.
The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup was chosen as the best pathway to complete the current campaign and introduce South Africa’s four ‘Super’ teams: the Vodacom Bulls; Emirates Lions; Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers.
This decision also allows European-based sides to earn qualification for European tournaments in 2021/22, in a fair and equitable manner.
The Rainbow Cup - which kicks off in April - will see the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers take on the very best that Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Wales have to offer, as the Springboks prepare to host their first British & Irish Lions tour since 2009.
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.
Fans will be able to watch it all unfold with our broadcast partners Premier Sports, eir Sport, S4C, TG4, DAZN and Super Sport.
Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup – Forging New Rivalries
Players aiming to make the British & Irish Lions squad will have the opportunity to test themselves against the likes of Siya Kolisi, Pieter Steph du Toit (both DHL Stormers), Duane Vermeulen (Vodacom Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions) and former Guinness PRO14 top-try scorer Makazole Mapimipi (Cell C Sharks).
The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will kick off on Saturday 17 April with two pools of eight teams made up of two Irish, two South African, two Welsh, one Italian and one Scottish club. Each team will play one game against each pool opponent and the sides that finish top of their pools will face off in a final on Saturday 19 June.
Martin Anayi, CEO, PRO14 Rugby: “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: “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.”
Breakdown | How the Rainbow Cup will Work
The 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 campaign will finish after 16 rounds with the Conference winners facing each other in a final in late March.
Qualification for EPCR tournaments in 2021/22 will be decided by rankings after Round 16.
The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will kick-off on Saturday 17 April, introducing the Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks, the DHL Stormers, and their World Cup-winning Springboks.
The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will consist of a pool stage (two pools of eight teams) and a final between the two pool winners
Breakdown | The final Chapter of Guinness PRO14
Rounds 12 to 16 will take place from February 20 and conclude on March 20 and final will then take place at the home venue of the highest-ranked team.
This abbreviated fixture list will aim to ensure home and away in-conference fixtures are completed and each team plays all of its cross-conference matches . Further clarification will be available when fixtures are confirmed.
The top-ranked teams from each conference will qualify for the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup. Requirement for play-offs is under review.