Sat, 15 May 2021

  • The Stormers are training "full on" ahead of Friday's scheduled Rainbow Cup opener against the Sharks in Cape Town.
  • This is despite reports indicating that SA's participation in the event was set to implode due to Covid-19 issues.
  • Stormers coach John Dobson and WP chairperson Ebrahim Rasool have been impressed by the players' intensity amid the uncertainty.

The Stormers are going full steam ahead with their planning for Friday night's PRO14 Rainbow Cup opener against the Sharks at Cape Town Stadium.

The intercontinental event, featuring the four big South African franchises as well as teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, was scheduled to kick off this weekend, with the Stormers hosting the Sharks and Bulls entertaining the Lions at Loftus Versfeld.

However, reports in local media on Tuesday indicated that the Rainbow Cup was likely to be scrapped due to ongoing issues regarding the coronavirus.

Doubts over South Africa's involvement surfaced last week when South Africa's four participating teams were told to suspend their visa applications due to issues around clearance from the UK government.

Meetings between rugby's top brass were continuing on Tuesday and an official announcement from SA Rugby was expected later in the day.

The Stormers, though, were preparing as if Friday night's opener against the Sharks was going ahead.

Their coach John Dobson told reporters on Tuesday he was impressed by the players' efforts in training earlier in the day.

"We know there's going to be serious rugby between now and the British & Irish Lions [tour]. There's a meeting this afternoon about the exact format of the competition.

"We just finished a full on training session preparing for Friday night and we're waiting to hear for after that. It was a really good session," Dobson said.

Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) chairperson Ebrahim Rasool, who was also in attendance in the virtual meeting, added that the intensity at which the team trained had caught his eye.

"The way I've seen them train... with an intensity that was for me higher than a match intensity... I think there is no slacking in their uncertainty. I think we have a squad and a coach that has embraced uncertainty. It's the conditions of the times and we just need them to be ready for whatever eventuality.

"I think the incentive of the British & Irish Lions is for us a defining feature that will see us through the uncertainty."

The first three rounds of the Rainbow Cup was set for derby matches, before cross-hemisphere fixtures were to follow.

The plan was for the four South African teams to play their away games in Europe during Rounds 4 to 6, with organisers earlier saying the fixtures would be confirmed once all appropriate travel approvals had been confirmed by the relevant authorities and governments.

If South Africa's participation in the PRO14 is scrapped, SA Rugby will likely be forced to play another franchise competition to prepare local players for the British & Irish Lions tour which starts on 3 July.

Source: News24

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