Pro14 to conclude in March, 16-team Rainbow Cup to kick-off in April

The Rainbow Cup is set to have four South African teams along with 12 sides in Pro14
The Rainbow Cup is set to have four South African teams along with 12 sides in Pro14

The Pro14 organisers have confirmed that the 2020/21 season will conclude in March next year with the Rainbow Cup involving 16 teams to kick-off in April.

According to the statement released by the tournament organisers the 2020/21 season of Pro14 will conclude on 20th March with the Conference toppers in the two groups playing the final. The rounds 12 and 16 will be played between February 20 and March 20.

The tournament stake holders were in favour of including South African teams in the competition especially with the Super Rugby becoming a localised competition following the pandemic coronavirus.

With the Cheetahs confirmed that they will not be part of the 2020/21 season of Pro14 while the Southern Kings were liquidated by the South African board following the financial crisis created by the pandemic coronavirus, Vodacom Bulls; Emirates Lions; Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers will join the existing 12 teams in the competition for the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

In the Rainbow Cup, the 16 teams will be divided into two groups of eight each and will kick-off on 17th April. Each group will have two Irish teams, two South African teams, two Welsh teams and one apiece of Italy and Scotland teams. 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 19th June.

“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," said Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi.

“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.”