SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux talks to the media after France was announced as the host nation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup at Royal Garden Hotel in London on 15 November 2017 (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
- South Africa’s move to Level 2 of lockdown is good news for rugby fans.
- There has been no professional rugby played in the country since the end of March when Super Rugby was suspended.
- A domestic tournament, hopefully to start in September, now seems possible given the new lockdown regulations.
A move to Level 2 in the nationwide lockdown is fantastic news for South African rugby lovers who are desperate for a return to competition.
There has still been no official word out of SA Rugby in terms of when a return to competitive play will happen or what tournament or format will be used, but it is understood that mid-September is the target date.
The country’s professional franchises have been conducting non-contact training since the beginning of the month, but when the country moves to Level 2 on Monday, gyms will be open once more and the intensity of training will be expected to increase.
Most conditioning coaches have accepted that they will need four to five weeks of full contact training before being match ready, so if those timelines start now then a return to play in the middle of or towards the end of September would be possible.
In addressing the nation on Saturday night, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that sporting fixtures will be allowed to resume behind closed doors with no fans present.
South African football has already resumed league action while cricket last month hosted the Solidarity Cup at SuperSport Park.
The possibility of hosting a domestic Super Rugby-like tournament is still likely at this stage before the Springboks head off for the Rugby Championship in November when the 2020 Currie Cup is likely to be played without the biggest names in the country.
The domestic tournament was also punted as possibly taking place inside one sanitised ‘bio-bubble’ environment, but with Ramaphosa now having also lifted bans on interprovincial travel, that might no longer be necessary.
Super Rugby 2020 was suspended after just seven rounds of fixtures towards the end of March and South Africa has not seen any competitive rugby since then.
– Compiled by Sport24 staff