BACK ON TRACK
Delight as SA Rugby given green light to resume
SA’s top rugby players have finally received the green light to resume competition.
They are expected to do so by mid-September subject to compliance with measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 after sports minister Nathi Mthethwa gazetted legislation on Thursday.
The directions stipulate that contact training and matches can be played in empty stadiums‚ with only limited people allowed to attend games as part of essential services to make these events possible and from within a biosafe environment.
It is believed the number allowed in stadiums will be about 170 people including players‚ match officials‚ medical and operational staff‚ broadcasters and security.
“Since the start of this pandemic we have been working hard at ensuring we get back on the field and we’ve kept the government informed on our plans throughout the process‚” SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said in a statement.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to move to the next phase of our return-to-play plans and will provide the department with all the necessary information required‚ such as venues for matches‚ to ensure a smooth transition to competitive rugby.
“Having said that‚ our eight franchise teams that returned to the training field recently still need a few more weeks of preparation before they will be ready for matches‚ and from SA Rugby’s side we will assist them with whatever is necessary.
“At this stage‚ we hope to have our first matches by early to midSeptember and our plans on the structure of the planned competition will be announced in due course‚ as we have various options to consider‚” Roux said.
Super Rugby was suspended in the middle of March after the New Zealand government imposed travel restrictions to help curb the spread of the virus.
The plug has since been pulled on the Super Rugby competition, with Kiwi teams starting their own competition‚ with Australasia’s players following suit.
SA Rugby has already given the Bulls‚ Lions‚ Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Cheetahs‚ Southern Kings‚ Griquas and Pumas the thumbs-up to start non-contact training.
They are likely to contest a domestic competition. A return to international competition is not permitted under the new regulations‚ but Roux said he understood the government’s need to phase in any return to normality.
“We know the World Rugby window for the Rugby Championship is only in November and December‚ so we’re hopeful that in due course the government will be in a position to further relax the restrictions.
“For now‚ the most important thing is to ensure we get the action under way as we have many stakeholders‚ such as our broadcast partner‚ competition and team sponsors and our supporters‚ who are keen to see rugby again.”
South Africa’s top rugby players have finally received the green light to resume competition.