Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Whilst the Rainbow Nations Cup was to bring new light into the South African rugby landscape, the pot of gold SARU was after remains unfound. With Europe's current travel ban on South Africa playing havoc with scheduling a cross continent competition, the governing bodies had no choice but to change the structure of the competition.
Unfortunately due to the tight time frames no contingency plans could be finalised and the tournament has thus been split into a localised version with no travel and no cross continent clashes on the cards. No stone was left unturned in the effort to get the tournament underway as over 10 contingency venues were explored as options for hosting the SA teams, with some even based in the middle east to allow for quarantine procedures. The final cards lay in the hands of the governments of the respective countries and they did not sign off on the proposals.
South African sides will instead commence a series of derby matches under the tournament banner. The Lions will face the Blue Bulls in round one, whilst all eyes will be on the coastal clash between the Sharks and the Stormers as Siya Kolisi is likely to line up against his former side for the 1st time. The change in plans is definitely detrimental to the Springboks preparation for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour as the tournament was vital in garnering game time for the players.
Fans showed their disappointment on social media at the thought of yet more derby matches, having already watch the same teams compete in the Carling Currie Cup and Preparation Series as well as Super Rugby unlocked. The derbies also pose a risk for injury and player fatigue as the brutal nature of the home rivalries pushes up the physicality. With Springbok selection looming for the Lions tour, players would be putting everything in to earning their spot in the squad.
South African Rugby has suffered major financial losses over the last year and the cancellation of the planned tournament will have furthered the governing bodies plight. The importance of fan attendance at the Lions series now takes center stage in the fight to prevent further hemorrhage.