Letter: Introduce Springbok trials

In another letter to the editor as we continue to encourage you to send CRAIG LEWIS submissions, a reader suggests there is a simple solution to SA rugby’s woes during the coronavirus crisis.

CALLING OUR READERS: Send your rugby letter to the editor

In these times where rugby, and by extension revenue for SA Rugby and the unions, is scarce and broadcasters, fans, players and administrators are all desperate for some rugby, any rugby, there is a simple solution.

The factors against holding a local tournament were recently discussed. To recap, some of them were as follows:

– travel is not possible/severely restricted during lockdown;
– rugby is a contact sport, thereby increasing the risk of players contracting Covid-19 from another player;
– if this were to happen the entire squad would need to be quarantined, so do you need to run a second squad, training separately from the first squad?;
– players and staff come into contact with their families when not at training, thereby increasing the risk of them contracting Covid-19, leading to the same problem as discussed above.

Looking into the past provides the answer. Why not reintroduce the Springbok trials/North vs South derby? This would solve the problem for immediate rugby on our televisions.

My proposal is as follows:

– the SA coaches could identify players from each local team they would like to take a closer look at;

– these players are then allocated a position (or positions);

– the fans can then vote for their starting lineup by sms-ing a number for a reasonable fee, e.g. R1 per sms;

– these funds could go towards match fees with extra funds being split by SA Rugby among the unions and a portion being retained by them.

– the fans therefore have involvement in picking the starting lineups for each side with the player with the most votes being chosen in each position, the other players being on an extended bench for their respective teams. My thinking is 30 players per team, with a special inclusion of current overseas based Springboks who are back in the country due to their overseas leagues having shut down.

– SuperSport could broadcast the match/trial live.

– There could be a rebroadcast/delayed broadcast on SABC which would bring in extra revenue which could be shared by SuperSport between them and SA Rugby.

I think this would be a winner in terms of getting SA Rugby some much-needed revenue, lifting the mood of the country as a whole, and helping the players to get some much-needed match fitness.

The 60 players could play at a remote location, somewhere like Potchefstroom, and behind closed doors. They could be tested before meeting up to ensure none of them are infected, isolated during the buildup to the match, and tested afterwards, and then return to isolation at their homes.

I’m sure there would be logistical hurdles to jump, but they are not insurmountable and a game now would be a boost to rugby, a boost to finances and a boost to South African morale.

– Steve

Letter: How reader Ngcebo Mbatsane fell in love with rugby 

*If you’d like to join Steve in writing us a rugby letter, we invite you to send any of your thoughts or memories in an email to editor Craig Lewis at this address: [email protected]

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