• Sign of light at the end of the tunnel

    The green light given to a revised New Zealand ‘super’ competition is an encouraging development that should be celebrated before questions are raised, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    Live rugby is on the horizon.

    In South Africa, we woke up to the news that the restart of rugby is poised to take place in New Zealand, where an agreement has been reached for a 10-week Kiwi competition involving its five Vodacom Super Rugby clubs to go ahead in the near future.

    READ: Kiwis set for Super Rugby resumption

    This revised domestic competition will become possible when New Zealand reaches alert level 2 in their coronavirus response, and it’s said restrictions could ease to that stage as early as next week.

    Players will need three to four weeks to adequately prepare with contact training before matches can commence, but there is every chance action could start as early as June.

    It’s an exciting prospect for a rugby-deprived public.

    At a time when most of the news surrounding the impact of Covid-19 on rugby has been immensely concerning, this is the first sign of some light peeking through at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

    As mentioned in a previous column, I’m sure like many I’ve desperately missed live rugby.

    That was based primarily on an absence of any kind of action as opposed to a particular longing for the resumption of the bloated Super Rugby competition in its current guise, but beggars can’t be choosers.

    Right now, the resumption of rugby is vital for the future of the game and financial sustainability. It provides hope that with strictly enforced health and safety measures, live sport can go ahead behind closed doors.

    It’s likely that Australia will be next in line to hold some form of domestic competition, which seemingly will remain under the ‘Super Rugby’ banner.

    This is all in keeping with the Sanzaar agreement, and insistence from CEO Andy Marinos that the completion of Super Rugby in some shape or form remains a priority.

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    It means, here in South Africa, the first taste of live action is set to come from Australasia, and then it remains to be seen how this equates to an end product.

    The fact of the matter, though, is that New Zealand’s ‘super’ competition is set to be completed before South Africa is likely to even be in a position to even consider some form of return to play.

    In New Zealand, talks of a move to alert level 2 come as ‘no cases of recent community transmission’ have been reported, and a ‘vast improvement in contact tracing’. In addition, only one new coronavirus case was revealed on Thursday in New Zealand.

    It goes without saying that South Africa is in a vastly different position, and in a recent interview with SARugbymag.co.za, Vodacom Blue Bulls president Willem Strauss hinted that in a positive scenario a local competition could take place in September.

    The ‘doomsday scenario’, however, is that no rugby will be played at all this year.

    All guidelines will be based on ever-changing stipulations that are unique to each and every region and country.

    Exactly how this new ‘Super Rugby’ competition will work and be completed remains to be seen, but what we should be celebrating is the fact that some form of normality is returning.

    New Zealand is leading the way, and its now the turn of South Africa to hopefully follow in the not-too-distant future.

    One way or another, it seems there will be some rugby to enjoy before long, and that’s cause for excitement in a time of lockdown when there have been limited rays of silver lining.

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    Craig Lewis