SA Rugby turns to emergency plan for URC teams

SA Rugby could reportedly activate an emergency backup plan that will see the four South African Vodacom United Rugby Championship teams face each other after fixtures against overseas teams were postponed.

According to Rapport newspaper, the plan would see the Vodacom Bulls play against the Sharks on Friday evening, while the Stormers would host the Lions in Cape Town on Saturday. Both matches would count towards URC log points.

The URC was thrown into chaos after an unexpected announcement from the UK government to place travel restrictions between Britain and South Africa.

According to the report, the four South African teams offered to let the overseas teams fly back after this weekend’s fixtures on a special charter flight, but that was turned down, the teams withdrew and the fixtures were postponed until a later date. This reportedly angered the SA franchises, as it was done unilaterally and without consultation.

Adding to the frustration is that the South African players have had to make sacrifices, playing all four opening fixtures away from home. This weekend would have been their first matches against overseas teams since Super Rugby in February 2020.

The SA franchises felt that the fixtures could still have been played and the overseas teams in South Africa –  Cardiff and the Scarlets from Wales, Munster from Ireland and the Italian team Zebre Parma – could have returned home in time, before the new travel restrictions came into effect on Sunday.

A suggestion was even made to advance all four fixtures and play them all in one stadium and get all four teams on a charter flight back.

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Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack