Vodacom Bulls CEO Alfons Meyer says he hopes a strengthened double-round Currie Cup could be arranged to offer some excitement to rugby stakeholders once the South African lockdown ends. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Tuesday marks day 12 of lockdown for South Africans, and while the original proposition was for this unprecedented action to end on 16 April, there are increasing reports and rumours that it could be extended.
For the Bulls players, it’s been a particularly challenging time since losing to the Reds in Brisbane on 14 March. That was the weekend Vodacom Super Rugby was suspended, and the team had to travel home just after they had arrived in Australia.
In a recent chat with SARugbymag.co.za, Meyer said the team landed on the Monday after the competition postponement, were bussed to Loftus and underwent testing for coronavirus under lab conditions – only receiving the results three days later to thankfully confirm they were all negative.
The players then still headed into self-isolation and ultimately lockdown, with initial plans for small groups to conduct work at Loftus having to be scrapped.
Meyer says everything possible was being done to help keep the players engaged during this time, but admits it was challenging.
‘If you can’t even go outside your house to run, and you don’t have a treadmill or indoor bike, it’s very challenging to try and stay fit. You can’t monitor each and every individual. You have to think of the players, who were getting to their peak of fitness after seven rounds, and now almost need to start with another whole pre-season when they come out of lockdown. But will there be time?’
It now seems increasingly likely that Super Rugby will not be able to be completed as international travel will not return to normal any time soon.
Meyer suggested that ‘whatever it takes’, though, there needed to be plans made for at least some form of domestic competition to resume as soon as possible.
‘I can’t see any rugby before June. Sanctions will continue for a while, and then players will need time to get fit again. Then a restructured competition must be agreed upon, and it all takes time.
‘My personal view is that a double-round Currie Cup including the Kings, Cheetahs, Griquas, Pumas, and the four Super Rugby sides would give some value back to season-ticket holders, sponsors, fans, suite holders. Something like that could excite people again.’