Scarlets to kick off Rainbow Cup challenge against Dragons

Rob Lloyd News

Scarlets will open their Rainbow Cup campaign away to the Dragons on the weekend of April 24.

Opponents have been confirmed for the opening three weekends of the new cross-border competition with specific dates and kick-off times to be confirmed.

The tournament will begin with three Welsh derbies – home matches against the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues follow the Dragons opener.

The 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 world champion  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 four to six will see the four South African Super franchises play their away games in  Europe and those fixtures 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 June 19.

PRO14 Rugby is currently consulting with our broadcast partners to select kick-off times and will confirm the scheduling as soon as possible.

David Jordan, Tournament Director, 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 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.”

Round 1 – April 24

Ulster v Connacht, Leinster v Munster, Ospreys v Cardiff Blues, Dragons v Scarlets, Benetton v Glasgow, Edinburgh v Zebre, Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks

Roound 2 – May 8

Connacht v Leinster, Munster v Ulster,  Zebre v Benetton, Glasgow v Edinburgh, Cardiff Blues v Dragons, Scarlets v Ospreys.

May 1, 2021 (EPCR Semi-Final Weekend)

DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions

Round 3  – May 15, 2021

Munster v Connacht, Leinster v Ulster, Benetton v Zebre, Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets v Cardiff Blues, Dragons v Ospreys

May 8, 2021: Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers

Round 4: Weekend of May 29

Round 5: Weekend of June 5

Round 6: Weekend of June 12

Final: Weekend of June 19