Sanzaar is still optimistic that it will be able to deliver the 2020 Rugby Championship later this year amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
This is despite the fact that coronavirus has forced the cancellation of the July Tests and the regular 16-team 2020 Super Rugby season.
While both New Zealand and Australia have resumed club and franchise rugby with their own internal leagues involving their Super Rugby teams, South Africa is still under lockdown with teams yet to return to any sort of full training.
There is also the question of how Regulation 9 – which pertains to the release of overseas-based players for Test rugby – would be enforced. A bulk of South Africa’s 2019 Rugby Championship and World Cup-winning squad is based either in Europe or Japan and quite how these players would be released to play for the Springboks is still in question.
Meanwhile, Argentina is also facing a similar problem as – with the Jaguares’ Super Rugby future in doubt – a number of their top players have signed for European clubs.
Regardless, Sanzaar boss Andy Marinos is confident that the Rugby Championship could be held in later this year.
‘We remain very positive about that,’ Marinos told Stuff.co.nz. ‘Obviously the biggest elephant, or anomaly, in the room is what sort of restrictions that could come in. So, we always have to be guided by governments and health authorities around that.
‘But we are certainly very positive as a group to deliver a Rugby Championship this year in whichever market we can, where we can get all the teams in and get the competition under way.’
While not providing an exact date, Marinos said they were looking to hold the four-nation tournament in the last three months of the year.
‘At this stage we are looking at the back end of October, into November and probably early December,’ Marinos said. ‘We need eight weeks in order for us to deliver a Rugby Championship.’
Marinos added that a ‘bubble’ arrangement – with the tournament based solely in one country – was very unlikely. Earlier reports suggested that Perth was the favourite to be a single-city host for the Rugby Championship.
‘First of all, there was never really a deep consideration of the bubble. If we were going to create any bubbles we would certainly be looking at the eastern seaboard of Australia for that. That’s not to say we couldn’t play a game in Perth, but I think there’s a greater concentration of players, if we were to do that it would be on the eastern seaboard.’
Photo: EPA/Jan Touzeau