The Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup will kick off on the weekend of April 24 with fixtures for the first three rounds now confirmed.
Three weekends of derby action will be followed by cross-Hemisphere fixtures where the existing Guinness PRO14 teams will face the Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers for the very first time.
Ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, these games should help to ignite the rivalries that will play out in the summer when the Lions and the Springboks go head-to-head.
Changes to scheduling and format of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup have been made to limit travel where possible with the opening three rounds accounting for derby fixtures across Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
Rounds 4 to 6 will see the four South African ‘Super’ franchises play their away games in Europe, and those matches will be confirmed once all appropriate travel approvals have been confirmed by the relevant authorities and governments.
This format means that no teams from Europe will travel to South Africa for Guinness Rainbow Cup games.
A total of six rounds (eight games per round) will take place with all teams ranked in a single league table. The top two teams will then play each other in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup final on Saturday, June 19.
PRO14 Rugby is currently consulting with their broadcast partners to select kick-off times and will confirm the scheduling as soon as possible.
David Jordan, Tournament Director of PRO14 Rugby, said: “Everyone is glad that we can now put some certainty into the rugby calendar in what has been an unpredictable period.
“Planning for a cross-hemisphere competition where the situation has been so fluid has provided many challenges, but we believe we have found a solution that is practical and safe to deliver a unique competition that supporters can get excited about.
Throughout the Guinness PRO14 season, we have liaised with our Unions and their governments to ensure we are meeting the conditions set out for elite sport to operate.
“We are very grateful for that support, without which a cross-border competition such as ours could not have taken place.”
GUINNESS PRO14 RAINBOW CUP FIXTURES:
Round 1 – Weekend of April 24, 2021
Ulster v Connacht
Leinster v Munster
Benetton Rugby v Glasgow Warriors
Edinburgh v Zebre
Ospreys v Cardiff Blues
Dragons v Scarlets
Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions
DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks
Round 2 – Weekend of May 1, 2021 (EPCR Semi-Final Weekend)
DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls
Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions
Round 2 – Weekend of May 8, 2021
Connacht v Leinster
Munster v Ulster
Zebre v Benetton Rugby
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh
Cardiff Blues v Dragons
Scarlets v Ospreys
Round 3 – Weekend of May 8, 2021
Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks
Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers
Round 3 – Weekend of May 15, 2021
Munster v Connacht
Leinster v Ulster
Benetton Rugby v Zebre
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues
Dragons v Ospreys
Round 4: Weekend of May 29
Round 5: Weekend of June 5
Round 6: Weekend of June 12
Final: Weekend of June 19