PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA Preview – Round 1

The domestic rugby scene is set to explode back into action on Saturday as the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA kicks off, marking the DHL Stormers, Cell C Sharks, Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions’ competition debuts.

The DHL Stormers will host the Cell C Sharks in the opening match at the Cape Town Stadium at 14h00 on Saturday in what is expected to be a thrilling coastal derby, which is also the Durbanites’ first visit to the Cape outfit’s new home ground.

The match will also be significant for leading referee Jaco Peyper, who makes his PRO14 debut with the whistle. He will be assisted by AJ Jacobs and Aimee Barrett-Theron, while Stuart Berry will serve as the Television Match Official (TMO).

This will be followed by an intriguing Jukskei derby in Pretoria between the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld at 19h00, where Rasta Rasivhenge will be the referee on duty, with the assistance of Griffin Colby, Paul Mente, and Marius van der Westhuizen (TMO).

In Cape Town, the DHL Stormers will look to get the competition off to a winning start and to improve their track record against the Cell C Sharks. The KwaZulu-Natalians have dominated the encounters between the coastal rivals, winning four of their last six matches which included Carling Currie Cup semi-final at DHL Newlands in January.

The hosts, however, will have noticed that the biggest points margin between the teams in these matches was 12 points, and that in their last 31 matches they only trail the Durbanites by three victories, which is expected to set the scene for an enticing duel.

DHL Stormers head coach John Dobson said that his team are determined to start the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA on a positive note at their new home.

“This will be our first competitive match at Cape Town Stadium and we want to ensure that we get some early momentum in this competition,” said Dobson.

“The PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA is something we have all been looking forward to and our focus is on delivering a cohesive team performance that makes the most of the considerable talent we have running out for us on Saturday.”

Cell C Sharks coach Sean Everitt is expecting something different from the Capetonians on Saturday: “In the Currie Cup, Western Province were more set-piece orientated, but I think the Stormers will come with a mixture of styles on Saturday.

“They would have taken a lot of confidence from the warm-up matches (earlier this year) where they scored some great tries and their attack certainly came on in leaps and bounds. That makes it more difficult for us, but if we nullify them up front then we should be okay,” said Everitt.

Later in the evening the Vodacom Bulls will look to continue their dominance on the domestic scene after being crowned the Carling Currie Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked champions and stretch their winning run at ‘Fortress Loftus’ to 12 matches when they host their neighbours, the Emirates Lions in Pretoria.

The hosts will enter the game on a five-match winning streak against their Johannesburg rivals across all competitions, while they will also draw encouragement from their track record of 15 wins in the last 21 matches between the sides.

“We are definitely excited for the new Rainbow Cup SA tournament and thrilled to kick off the competition at Loftus, against our neighbours the Emirates Lions,” said Jake White, Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby.

“As always, we have been consistently working and all of us are looking forward to running out on the field again. We have a good mix of youth and experience in our group, and we are keen to see them gel together.”

The Emirates Lions, however, will take confidence from the fact that the last three matches between the teams came down to the wire with no more than seven points separating them on the scoreboard.

This combined with their determination to sway their fortunes against the Vodacom Bulls is expected to motivate them significantly going into the clash.

“The first round of the northern leg was extremely exciting and a great showcase of high-quality rugby,” said Ivan van Rooyen, head coach of the Emirates Lions.

“We are excited about the start of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA this weekend. It’s great for the fans to see the future of southern and northern hemisphere rugby and it will be good to see our boys back on the pitch, doing what they love.”

The normal Guinness PRO14 points’ system will apply, with four points for a win, bonus points for scoring four tries or more, or for losing within a margin of seven points or fewer, while two points will be awarded to each team for a drawn match.

The European Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup teams, meanwhile, have a bye this week after kicking off their competition last weekend. All the action will be broadcast live in South Africa on SuperSport, as well as in the UK and Ireland by eir Sport (ROI) and Premier Sports (UK). 

PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA Round 1 fixtures:

DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks

Date: Saturday, 1 May 2021
Time: 14h00
Venue: Cape Town Stadium
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs and Aimee Barrett-Theron
Television Match Official: Stuart Berry
TV: SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand

Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions

Date: Saturday, 1 May 2021
Time: 19h00
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby and Paul Mente
Television Match Official: Marius van der Westhuizen
TV: SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand

Issued by SA Rugby Communications