SARugbymag.co.za looks at which South African players will soon be back in action as overseas competitions start resuming from August.
PRO14 (22/23 August)
The 2019-20 PRO14 season is scheduled to resume on the weekend of 22 August.
Unlike in the Premiership, the PRO14 has restructured the rest of the season dramatically, with two weekends of derby matches to be played before the semi-finals, which will be decided on the winner and runner-up from each conference.
That means that the Cheetahs and Kings would play each other in two successive derbies (in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth). However, with the Cheetahs trailing second-placed Ulster by 11 points, there would be no chance of Hawies Fourie’s side making it through to the playoffs.
South Africans should turn their attentions to Munster, who signed Springbok World Cup-winning duo Damian de Allende and RG Snyman back in January. De Allende is busy recovering from a groin injury, but is on track to make his PRO14 debut next month.
Springbok flank Marcell Coetzee – who has been linked with a move to the Bulls – should be in action for Ulster, provided that the move to Pretoria does not go through. Coetzee has been in fantastic form this season and should contest for a place in the Springbok squad for next year’s British & Irish Lions tour.
FRENCH TOP 14 (5 September)
Having already cancelled the 2019-20 season, the Top 14 is set to start fresh with the 2020-21 season from 5 September. The new calendar recently got the green light from the French rugby union federation and is set to end with the final scheduled for 26 June next year.
Of course, South Africans will be keen to follow 2019 World Cup hero Cheslin Kolbe at Toulouse. The 2018-19 champions struggled last season with just eight wins from their 17 completed games, although Kolbe did shine when he returned from World Cup duty. Memorably, he played a game at flyhalf against Racing 92 last season, where he kicked a touchline conversion and 48-metre penalty. Rynhardt Elstadt, who contested for a place in the 2019 Springbok squad, should also be watched.
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will be hoping to continue his good form for Toulon, who had a much-improved 2019-20 season and were in a playoff place before it was called off. Dillyn Leyds joined La Rochelle from the Stormers and will hope to boost the side into a quarter-final place in his first season with the club.
Meanwhile, Joseph Dweba has arrived in France after joining Bordeaux from the Cheetahs. Dweba was likely to have been called up to the Springbok squad for the Test series against Scotland before it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the hooker can now look forward to playing in a solid team that topped the Top 14 table for much of last season.
The progress of Stade Francais should also be watched next season. The Parisian side struggled last season – leading to former head coach Heyneke Meyer parting ways with the club – but have brought Argentinian Gonzalo Quesada back. They have made a number of smart acquisitions, with lock Gerbrandt Grobler among the players brought in, while they count promising scrumhalf James Hall among their current squad.
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