• Contact training gets green light in SA

    South Africa’s franchise teams will return to full-contact training from early next week, following completion of final health checks.

    SA Rugby announced that the Vodacom Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas can resume contact training as a possible return to competitive action moves closer.

    ‘The teams have been hard at work with non-contact training for the past five weeks, and once a final COVID-19 test has been passed, they will be able to step up a gear next week,’ said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

    ‘We are moving in the right direction and I would like to urge all rugby supporters and members of the wider South African rugby family to bear with us as we plan the way forward for the next couple of weeks.

    ‘With the guidance of Government and working very hard with our various stakeholders, we’ve knuckled down and plotted our return to competitive action, which is getting closer every day. But we’re also very mindful of the pitfalls associated with this and we know things can change overnight.’

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    As it stands, by the time any SA team will possibly be able to return to play, over six months of absence from competitive action will have passed.

    Players will require at least three weeks of contact training before a return to competition could be considered safe after such an extended break from the rigours of the game.

    However, with September set to become the month to resume full training, it pushes back any hope for a revised local competition to the end of the next month (possibly the weekend of 18-19 September in a best-case scenario).

    Roux said SA Rugby and its various stakeholders were finalising plans for a return to play in line with the best available medical advice in order to ensure player welfare.

    ‘Once we’ve finalised all the relevant plans and we’ve aligned with our broadcast partner, sponsors, franchises and other stakeholders, we’ll confirm the playing schedule,’ said Roux.

    Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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    Craig Lewis