New target date for kick-off of local competition

It is believed SA Rugby’s hopes for the start of a competitive local competition – dependent on government regulations – have been pushed back to an end-of-August target date, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

On 8 June, it was confirmed that SA Rugby was continuing collaboration with government on return-to-training protocols, while a 500-page return-to-play manual has been at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture for several weeks.

READ: SA Rugby hopes for local action in August

However, the situation in South Africa has remained fluid during the prevalent Covid-19 pandemic, and regular communication and relevant clarifications have been required with regard to training protocols.

For a start, understands that four weeks of conditioning training will first be required by players, as well as an additional four-week block of full-contact training when that becomes possible.

As players begin to filter back to training at this time, the hope would be for July to be used for the requisite fitness training, and then for August to provide the opportunity for South Africa’s players to get back up to speed when it comes to taking contact.

In that scenario, the target would be for a local competition to get under way on Saturday, 29 August, to be contested by as many as eight domestic teams in a double-round format. The final would then be held in December.

It would present the opportunity for effectively a ‘full-strength’ Currie Cup that would include all the Springboks, although a group of players might be withdrawn from the competition if a postponed Rugby Championship of sorts is able to take place later in the year.

As mentioned in the SA Rugby statement from 8 June, the possibility of playing the Rugby Championship in a single ‘bio-bubble’ venue continues to be workshopped.

Certain decisions also remain reliant on ongoing discussions around a reworking of the global calendar. World Rugby has yet to come to agreement on these talks, with a meeting originally scheduled for 30 June having been postponed to give all stakeholders more time to study proposals.

‘We are ensuring that all parties have the time that they require to deliver the best-possible 2020 calendar solution for the global game,’ a World Rugby spokesperson stated.

‘Given ongoing constructive and productive meetings between stakeholders, we will not be putting a date on any decision at this stage.’

Rugby has been in lockdown since March because of the coronavirus, although New Zealand’s revised Super Rugby tournament started successfully in June.

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Photo: Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis