May 6, 2021

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SA Rugby president denies Rainbow Cup has been booted into touch

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SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has denied reports that South Africa’s top four rugby franchises have been dumped out of the upcoming Rainbow Cup.

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Rapport newspaper claimed on Sunday that the Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls had already been informed the competition would not be going ahead this year, with the players being told to halt their visa applications.

The four SA sides were due to participate in a new-look PRO14 tournament with 12 teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy starting on 24 April.

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The original plan was to have three weeks of local derbies before the SA teams travel north to a bio-bubble in Bristol for the overseas leg of the tournament from 29 May to 12 June.

However, the British government has yet to give the franchises the necessary clearance to base themselves in Bristol.

In an interview with IOL, Alexander said they were still working hard behind the scenes and exploring every possible avenue to ensure the tournament goes ahead.

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“No one has cancelled the Rainbow Cup,” Alexander said.

“We are looking at every possible scenario to stage the SA teams’ overseas matches.

“We are in negotiations with all authorities, locally and in the UK, to have the games take place as scheduled. We are fighting hard for the Rainbow Cup to go ahead.

“But at the moment, the decision is really outside rugby’s ambit. It is at government level, as there is currently a travel ban on South Africans entering the UK.

“They have said they are monitoring the situation here.”

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Negotiations are continuing in the hopes of allowing the South African sides to travel north.

PRO14 Rugby has reportedly identified a number of possible UK bases for the four SA teams, with the hope that a government exemption will be made being made to accommodate them.