SA Rugby hopes to convince government with a return-to-play protocol

Sharks v Stormers (Gallo Images)

Sharks v Stormers (Gallo Images)

Heinz Schenk – Sport24

The South African rugby fraternity is pinning its hopes on SA Rugby being able to convince government of a return-to-play protocol by the end of the week.

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Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night announcing that the country’s lockdown will be downgraded to Level 3 from 1 June, sporting events are still prohibited.

Fundamentally, Ramaphosa’s decree doesn’t change the status quo.

Draft Level 3 regulations, leaked into the public sphere recently, suggested exceptions will only be made to athletes of non-contact sports.

SA Rugby though had already submitted a framework as well as contingencies for the resumption of activities to relevant ministerial committees in the second week of May.

Pumas chief executive, Pieter Burger, whose union stares financial oblivion in the face should this year’s Rugby Championship meeting between the Springboks and All Blacks in Nelspruit not take place, had earlier told Sport24 that the deadline for government’s deliberation on the proposals is the end of this month.

It’s also understood that unions had been informed by SA Rugby’s special Covid-19 committee earlier this month that, “based on current predictions”, training would only resume in August.

Should that come to fruition, there’s tentative hope that some form of competitive play could commence by September.

However, Stormers coach John Dobson has previously been quite vocal over how realistic such time frames would be as the players’ inactivity over the past few months meant they would basically have to engage in a full pre-season again to avoid injury.

Meanwhile, Willem Strauss, Blue Bulls president, said the situation for club rugby remains equally uncertain.

The Bulls possess one of the more vibrant club rugby scenes, characterised by inter-provincial competitions that are receiving increased investment.

“With regards to our club game, we’re monitoring the situation daily and working on different scenarios,” he said.

“Should we be able to resume club rugby it will obviously be subject to the required health and safety protocols.”

Schools rugby is destined to be a write-off for 2020 after Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, stated sport events remain banned.

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