SA Rugby has worked closely with Sascoc on a ‘spectator guidelines’ proposal in the hope of receiving some concession for fan attendance during the British & Irish Lions series, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
It’s been nearly 18 months since the Springboks last played, and it will be closer to nearly two years of inactivity for the national side when the world champs finally return to action with expected warm-up games ahead of the arrival of the Lions at the end of June.
The wait has been agonising for Springbok fans, and indeed for rugby lovers around the world, but the fact the Lions series has been given the green light to proceed in South Africa is a credit to the work that has gone on behind the scenes.
After an inordinate number of meetings to determine where and when the tour could take place, the next question will turn to what this series will actually look like on local shores.
There are still a variety of logistics that will need some expert navigation. From bio-bubbles, to potential schedule adjustments, to negotiations around possible fan attendance.
It’s the latter point which will be of particular interest, especially for those who emerged as winners in the ticket ballot.
However, as has been the case for most negotiations around the Lions tour, discussions around fan attendance will require immense patience in a day and age where the Covid-19 pandemic can wreak havoc with the best-laid plans.
Yet, in planning for every scenario, SA Rugby has worked with the national Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to present a guideline to detail how fans could return to stadiums safely.
It will be reviewed by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and it’s hoped that some allowance could be granted to ensure the reintegration of some fan presence at stadiums.
This could take some time considering it will surely be dependent on the progression of the pandemic in South Africa, particularly when there have been projections of a feared third wave after Easter.
However, SARugbymag.co.za has learned of the comprehensive ‘spectator guidelines’ proposal that has been put together, while the Daily Mirror also received this information from SA Rugby president Mark Alexander.
‘We have been heavily involved in the drafting and we believe it makes a strong case for a safe and sustainable return of supporters,’ he told the UK publication.
In a worst-case scenario, the tour will go ahead behind closed doors, but hope still remains that stadium attendance of up to 50% capacity could be accommodated.