Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)

Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)

The relationship between SA Rugby and PRO14 Rugby has been “strengthened” despite the inaugural Rainbow Cup having struggled to get out of first gear. 

It was confirmed on Wednesday that, due to concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic, South Africa’s four franchises would not be able to travel to Europe this year to take part in the new-look tournament. 

Instead, the Rainbow Cup will operate under dual tournament banners – one for the European sides and one for the South African franchises. 

For the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, that is likely to mean another domestic competition that will get underway next weekend. 

It is another devastating blow to SA Rugby, who have not been able to field the Springboks since the 2019 World Cup final in November and, as a result, have been stretched financially. 

The move up north was taken largely because of the lucrative financial incentive it came with, but this latest development will hurt. 

According to a joint statement released by the PRO14 and SA Rugby on Wednesday, however, the future remains bright. 

“This decision has no impact on the long-term partnership between PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby and more details about those plans and league structure for the 2021/22 season onwards will be made public shortly,” the statement read. 

Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, added his voice. 

“Whilst the outcome is clearly different from what we had intended, our relationship and partnership with SA Rugby has been greatly strengthened and enhanced by this experience,” he said.  

“We are looking forward to the two Rainbow Cup competitions and in due course sharing our intentions about our future partnership that will be boosted by the experiences and project-planning involved to this point ahead of the 2021/22 season.”

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