No Test rugby in SA in 2020

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux has confirmed that the country will not be hosting any Test rugby this year and that the only possible internationals will be in New Zealand.

South Africa was set to host Scotland in a two-Test series and Georgia in a once-off match, before the July international window was postponed due to ongoing government and health agency Covid-19 directives.

It looks likely that the Springboks’ best hope of playing international rugby in 2020 will come in a Rugby Championship which could be hosted by New Zealand in a bio-bubble.

In a media briefing via a digital news conference on Tuesday, Roux confirmed that the Tests against Scotland and Georgia were all but cancelled due to the ongoing travel restrictions in South Africa.

‘In terms of the national competitions, it would be fair to say at this stage that the only chance of international competitions will be in the New Zealand bubble for the Rugby Championships and that all other international matches for the Springboks are probably not in consideration anymore,’ Roux said.

‘We are not planning on hosting any international games in South Africa this year. That is the system we are working with. Our best chance of play is either in New Zealand and if that doesn’t materialise within the Rugby Championships, our second option is going north and possibly playing Test matches in the north. Entrance into South Africa – with our borders currently closed and with the indications we are currently getting – would be highly unlikely.’

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Roux also provided an update on the local rugby competitions, confirming that SA Rugby is submitting a return-to-play proposal at the end of this week, with the possibility of hosting the eight-team franchise tournament in a bio-bubble in Johannesburg by early September.

‘We are going ahead with a domestic competition for eight senior teams and then a U21 competition for five junior teams – those are basically the franchises that will play in that competition. We have called all club rugby off and by the choice of the First Division themselves, they have chosen not to participate for the rest of the year.

‘We are busy negotiating with government on two scenarios,’ Roux explained. ‘One outside a bio-bubble and one in a bio-bubble. It is now where that bio-bubble will be. Initially, the destination of choice was Johannesburg for various reasons. However, Johannesburg is becoming a real hotspot now in terms of Covid-19.  Although, all districts in our country have been declared hotspots.

‘We have to possibly reconsider and have a second alternative that we can provide to government. We intend on providing that information by the end of the week and hopefully getting an answer next week.

‘Our return-to-play date is still the last weekend of August or first weekend of September or at the latest the second weekend of September, which would still allow us to play a domestic competition of sorts as well as a junior competition.

‘It is essential for us to get the guys back on the pitch because we need enough game time before we can embark on any international competition,’ Roux added.

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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