The Sharks, Bulls. Lions and Stormers are set to start their new campaign on European soil, using Bristol as a home base, but there are suspicions that the Top 4 South African teams could be booted out of the Rainbow Nations Cup.
The resulting financial implications of these four franchises being pulled would be massive, especially after SA Rugby turned their back on the Super Rugby tournament. SA's Rugby finances suffered a considerable knock when the Cheetahs and Southern Kings were excluded from competing in the 2020 Pro 14 season due to Covid-19. So when will we see our boys take the field against an International franchise again?
South African franchises are finding it difficult to pay their players due to the lack of international rugby currently being played. Television rights have subsequently been lost and the opportunity to get foreign investment might have been lost too. So how are potential sponsors reacting to all of this? Should SA teams be booted from playing in the Rainbow Cup, would this mean that we are to see yet another domestic tournament on home soils? If so, this will be the fourth tournament without the inclusion of foreign sides.
British & Irish Lions Tour
And how will the British and Irish Lions Tour be affected by the ongoing situation with the Rainbow Cup? The British Government has not allowed South African teams entry to the UK, but what is stopping them from allowing the English players to leave England and to travel to SA to compete in the Lions Tour? One can not argue that the issues surrounding the tour are still up in the air. SA Rugby is relying on this tour to be played in order to draw in sponsorships and investments as well as the subsequent television rights to broadcast these fixtures. The cancellation of the Rainbow Nations Cup could definitely have a ripple effect when it comes to the British and Irish Lions Tour.