Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos says the Springboks’ participation in the 2020 Rugby Championship was still to be confirmed, dependant on several factors outside its control.
It was confirmed on Friday that Australia would be hosting the 2020 edition of the tournament, which had initially looked likely to be played in New Zealand.
The tournament will comprise a six-week, 12-match, ‘home and away’ tournament involving Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
However, with domestic rugby yet to return in South Africa, the Springboks still have to get the green light to confirm their participation in the tournament.
Given that Australia and New Zealand have already held their own domestic versions of Super Rugby, there is a danger that the Springboks could go into the Rugby Championship underprepared, as the defending champions would expect to have to depart by 18 October to fulfil a two-week quarantine in Australia, even if they can train together during this time.
Marinos said that South Africa’s participation remained to be confirmed as it was dependent on several factors outside the control of Sanzaar.
‘The progress and impact of the pandemic has varied from country-to-country and international sporting competition is currently suspended in South Africa,’ he said.
‘The Springboks’ participation will be dependent on the relaxation of that suspension as well as overcoming a number of other logistical challenges including the opening of international air borders. South Africa is only expected to return to competitive play next month [October], leaving a relatively short time to prepare.
‘The TRC is one of international rugby’s biggest and most prestigious tournaments and it is great to at last provide some clarity for rugby fans and the players.
‘It would not have been possible if not for the huge contributions of our stakeholder unions, our broadcast partners as well as both the Australian [State and Federal] and New Zealand Governments for their assistance and contribution through their respective National Rugby Unions during this process.
‘Sanzaar is now currently working through the refinement of the detailed planning with Rugby Australia and we hope to announce match venues, match dates and kick-off times in the very near future.
‘We are cognisant of the fact that the COVID pandemic environment continues to change and throw up obstacles, but we are confident that our plans are robust and we will naturally build in contingency measures to suit any further changes,’ added Marinos.
Photo: EPA/Jan Touzeau