Guinness PRO14 organisers have confirmed that they'll operate dual tournaments in the upcoming Rainbow Cup.
They say all options were "explored and exhausted" but travel won't be possible between South Africa and Europe. South Africa is currently on the red list for entry into Ireland and the UK.
"A staggering volume of work has been undertaken to provide a number of proposals and options to accommodate this," said PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi of the decision.
"We navigated the challenges of the second and third waves of Covid-19 as well as the South African variant which constantly changed the landscape we were operating in.
“Among our unions, our own staff and SA Rugby there is no more that could have been asked in terms of designing plans that were medically sound, however, there has been no perfect solution found in time to allow for South African teams’ entry into our territories.
“Whilst the outcome is clearly different from what we had intended, our relationship and partnership with SA Rugby has been greatly strengthened and enhanced by this experience.
"We are looking forward to the two Rainbow Cup competitions and in due course sharing our intentions about our future partnership that will be boosted by the experiences and project-planning involved to this point ahead of the 2021/22 season.
Teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales will now compete in a "northern" Rainbow Cup. While South African teams, the Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls will play a separate competition against each other.
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