The Rainbow Cup

On the road to a Pro16, the diversion that was the rainbow cup that turned into a speed bump, has turned into a pothole. As we now have a Northern Rainbow Cup and Rainbow Cup SA, two tournaments that not many want at this stage of the year.

And even with this setback, everything looking like the Pro16 is still the plan for next season. Hopefully it can go ahead, but next season feels like a long time away.

Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said: “A staggering volume of work has been undertaken to provide a number of proposals and options to accommodate this – all as we navigated the challenges of the second and third waves of Covid-19 as well as the South African variant which constantly changed the landscape we were operating in.

“Among our unions, our own staff and SA Rugby there is no more that could have been asked in terms of designing plans that were medically sound, however, there has been no perfect solution found in time to allow for South African teams’ entry into our territories.

“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. 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.

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said:

This is a huge disappointment, but time had simply run out.”

“No stone was left unturned to try and find a solution to the challenges – including basing our teams for 10 days in locations in the Middle East or Europe. But the pieces of the jigsaw would not fall into place in time to allow us to put those plans into action.”

Clearly this isn’t due to lack of effort or want by the people trying to organise this. The expansion to a PRO 16 and the cash boost of a rainbow cup was to be admired, especially in the time of a global pandemic & huge financial difficulties for so many clubs. With the gap between the haves & have-nots as wide as it is and if I was to guess I’d say it’s growing, something had to be tried.

For once money isn’t a dirty word

And it’s ok to be annoyed about how the Pro 14 ended this season. As a Connacht fan the goal of knock-out rugby for a good season got taken away for this, and now it’s gone and what for…

  • An end to a season that has just felt meh
  • To be on the harder side of another competition
  • Momentum of performance levels lost

And I’d say there are clubs looking at their form from a month ago thinking they could have pipped us for those spots. In what was a frustrating and anticlimactic end to the Pro 14 season.

Will I be happy to watch Connacht play over the next 6 hopefully 7 weeks, of course I will. But the excitement that would normally be there will be dampened. When the full fixture list is announced and an end is insight I will find that bit of extra energy but at the moment i am feeling like I’m running on empty

Padraig Kelly

The 2nd Row

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