South African rugby fans should know shortly if the country’s four main franchises will take part in the full version of the proposed Rainbow Cup.
It was confirmed last month that the cross-border competition is scheduled to kick off on 23 April and run through to the 19 June final.
It is meant to feature the PRO14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, as well as South Africa’s four Super franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers.
While the first three rounds are scheduled to feature domestic derbies – with the fixtures for those rounds already released, starting with the Stormers v Sharks on 23 April – rounds four to six are meant to see the South African teams face their European counterparts.
However, multiple media platforms are reporting that the South African franchises have been told not to proceed with their visa applications.
It is believed there are problems with clearance from the UK government.
While no English teams will feature in the Rainbow Cup, the four SA teams were to be based in a bio-bubble in Bristol and then commute to their games in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy.
Clearance has been obtained from most of the governments, but there are issues with the Bristol base.
The spin-off of a cancelled Rainbow Cup, apart from a lack of quality game time for the Springboks ahead of the upcoming Lions series, is the loss of television income for the SA franchises.