Confirmed: Boks to miss Rugby Champs

Sanzaar has officially confirmed that the Springboks have withdrawn from participation in this year’s Rugby Championship in Australia.

The Springboks were due to defend their title in Australia between 7 November and 12 December.

Earlier this week, Sanzaar gave SA Rugby a 48-hour deadline to confirm whether they would be sending a team to Australia, but reports on Thursday indicated that the decision had been made to withdraw the Boks from the tournament.

Sanzaar on Friday morning officially confirmed that the Springboks will not be travelling to Australia.

The decision was based on several factors, including South African government travel restrictions, player welfare and safety concerns, and the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on South African players both in South Africa and across their various clubs in the UK and Europe.

‘COVID is just a gift that keeps on giving,’ Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said. ‘Naturally, it is extremely disappointing that the Springboks, due to the continued complexities of operating in and around this COVID environment, cannot fully compete in the previously planned six-round Rugby Championship. That said this now presents us with a unique opportunity, in this our 25th year, to close off 2020 with a fully-fledged Tri-Nations Competition.

‘Sanzaar recognises the challenges and adversity that the national unions have had to face this year due to the pandemic. It is a tribute to the Unions in how they have been able to adapt and, dependent on COVID restrictions, run domestic competitions with the exception of Argentina who has been impacted the hardest through their lockdown. These short domestic tournaments, and in Argentina’s case no domestic competition, are not the normal lead into an international playing window, and while it has been a far from ideal preparation we look forward to an exciting and vibrant Tr-Nations tournament.

‘I would like to make special mention of Rugby Australia as hosts and the NSW Government who have shown great support and flexibility through this testing planning period. We have once again continued to be supported by all our broadcasters who have shown great patience and support of the sport as we endeavoured to deliver an international rugby tournament, that will now take the form of a Tri-Nations series.’

The Rugby Championship will now revert back to its original international competition format of the Tri-Nations, this time involving Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

The six-match Tri-Nations will see each team play each other twice, with matches to be played in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle.

The first two matches involving Australia and New Zealand double up as the final two Bledisloe Cup series matches.

COLUMN: Player welfare should take priority for Boks

Tri-Nations Match Schedule 2020

October 31: Australia v New Zealand (ANZ Stadium, Sydney)
November 7: Australia v New Zealand (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
November 14: New Zealand v Argentina (Bankwest Stadium, Sydney)
November 21: Argentina v Australia (McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle)
November 28: Argentina v New Zealand (McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle)
December 5: Australia v Argentina (Bankwest Stadium, Sydney)

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images