Guinness PRO14 to end in March followed by new ‘Rainbow Cup’
December 23, 2020 12:59 pm client
PRO14 Rugby have confirmed that the current Guinness PRO14 campaign will end in March allowing the competition’s existing clubs and South Africa’s four ‘Super’ teams to finish the season with a 16-team ‘Rainbow Cup’ competition ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour.
After lengthy consultation involving key stakeholders among PRO14 Rugby’s clubs and unions, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup was chosen as the best pathway to 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 Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) tournaments in 2021/22 in a fair and equitable manner.
Ahead of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will prove to be a ground-breaking spectacle for fans who will see headline players from north and south establish new rivalries in their bid for the ultimate Test selection.
Right through until the last kick of the ball in June, fans will be able to watch it all unfold on eir Sport, TG4, Premier Sports, S4C, DAZN, and SuperSport.
How it 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
- On 17 April, 2021, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will kick-off and introduce the Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks, and DHL Stormers and their World Cup-winning Springboks
- The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will consist of a pool stage and a final between the two pool winners
Final chapter of Guinness PRO14
Rounds 12 to 16 will take place from February 20 and conclude on March 20. A 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 also. Further clarification will be available when fixtures are confirmed.
The scheduled dates for the conclusion of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 campaign are:
R12: February 20
R13: February 27
R14: March 6
R15: March 13
R16: March 20
Final: March 27
Once Round 16 has been completed, the top-ranked teams from each conference will qualify for the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup. The requirement for play-offs is under review.
Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup
With South Africa preparing to host their first British & Irish Lions tour since 2009, the World Cup champions will see their ‘Super’ teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers take on the very best that Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales have to offer.
Players aiming to make the British & Irish Lions squad will find no better trial environment to test themselves in as they go up 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 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 19 June. Across 57 matches, the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will feature the best of the Springbok talent going toe-to-toe with some of the British & Irish Lions’ headline acts.