The Rainbow Cup was on Tuesday afternoon on the verge of being scrapped.
South African rugby fans got wind of the competition being called off through the day on Tuesday and by mid-afternoon it seemed a done deal, with SA Rugby set to announce the news at any stage.
The Rainbow Cup was established to fill the gap before the start of the next Pro16 competition, with South Africa’s four “Super franchises” set to make their first entry into European competition.
The first round matches were scheduled for this weekend.
It now seems rugby fans in South Africa will have to watch more local derbies, and this country’s best players will have to get excited all over again about taking on the same opposition they’ve faced several times already in the last year.
The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers have faced off in the Super Rugby Unlocked competition, the Currie Cup and the Preparation Series in the last few months. The Griquas, Pumas and Cheetahs have also featured in some of these competitions, while the EP Elephants played in the Preparation Series.
Coronavirus concerns, and travel and accommodation restrictions and protocols in Europe and in South Africa, have made it impossible for the teams picked to play in the Rainbow Cup to play in a cross-border, inter-continental competition.
While it was hoped the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers would be able to face the best teams in the ProRugby competition in Europe over the next few weeks to properly get the Springbok players in shape for the visit by the British and Irish Lions in July, South African rugby bosses will now have to come up with a new plan.
SA Rugby boss Jurie Roux was expected to announce the way forward for this country’s rugby players later Tuesday or Wednesday.