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The anticipated arrival of the South African franchises to the Irish provinces has been placed under threat, as reports suggest that the Rainbow Cup will be cancelled as COVID-19 restrictions are to be extended.

The PRO 14 and Super Rugby teams are scheduled to commence their local derbies in the opening three weeks of the tournament, which is set to start in just two weeks.

However, as South Africa remains on Ireland's mandatory hotel quarantine list, which currently includes professional athletes.

While all of the teams are still preparing as if the competition will still be going ahead, reports from South Africa have suggested that the South African franchises were advised to cease their visa application processes on Friday.

Siya Kolisi Sharks South Africa's Siya Kolisi celebrates in front of the fans after the 2019 Rugby World Cup Semi Final victory over Wales at International Stadium Yokohama. Ashley Western/PA Archive/PA Images

These reports were further confirmed by the Sharks' Chief Executive Officer Eduard Coetzee on Sunday, as he spoke to South African media.

“We have little information at this stage, but it seems to be the case that the Rainbow Cup will be cancelled,” Coetzee told South African publication IOL.

The Sharks, Lions, Bulls and Stormers were originally intending to work around the mandatory quarantine restrictions in Ireland and Scotland by basing themselves in Bristol for the away leg of the Rainbow Cup, however further reports from the UK have placed this in doubt as well.

The potential cancellation of the Rainbow Cup will also have a major impact on the British and Irish Lions tour, as not only will the Springboks be severely untested by anyone outside of South Africa since the World Cup, but Irish players will question whether they will have to quarantine on their return from the tour.

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Bulls Champions Cup Cheetahs Connacht Jake White Kings Leinster Lions Munster Pro14 Rainbow Cup Sean Everitt Sharks Siya Kolisi Springboks Steven Kitsoff Stormers Super Rugby Ulster

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