The Rainbow Cup looks almost certain to be cancelled.
The competition was set to take place in April and June this year but is close to being cancelled after news broke on Sunday that the South African franchises were told this past week not to proceed with their visa applications. It is reported that there are problems with clearance from the UK government.
The four teams from South Africa were to be based in a bio-bubble in Bristol and then commute to their games in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy with the clearance from England's government blocking the South Africans.
Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee told IOL on Sunday:
“We have little information at this stage, but it seems to be the case that the Rainbow Cup will be cancelled,”
The opening three rounds of the competition were to be played out locally in Ireland, Wales, Italy and South Africa before the South African teams were to be based in a bio-bubble in Bristol.
However, this is where the stumbling block has arisen as it would appear that the England government is not prepared to risk a Covid-19 outbreak by hosting the South African franchises.
This will come as a blow for the South African teams financially as well as a blow for their preparations for the British and Irish Lions tour as they will have played just locally since the 2020 Super Rugby season was canned.