Plans to restructure local rugby competitions are currently under discussion in the wake of the recent measures introduced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, SA Rugby announced on Wednesday.
These plans could see South African franchises and other provincial teams return to a new, locally-based derby competition in view of the current suspension of Vodacom Super Rugby and the Guinness PRO 14.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has confirmed the national rugby body is in ongoing discussions with stakeholders about a number of competition models that could be implemented.
“SA Rugby is currently evaluating all our competition structures, with a view to restructure it in the interim so that we are able to afford game time to all our franchise and provincial teams,” said Roux.
“Obviously, nothing can happen in the next few weeks until the ‘period of social distancing’, as instructed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has lapsed.
“We are considering local derby matches between our South African teams. We must still drill into the specifics, but we are confident we will be able to put a feasible plan on the table that will be suitable for everyone.
“These are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures and it also offers us an opportunity to be innovative.
“We are working closely with our broadcast partner, SuperSport, and other important stakeholders and will announce plans once we are in a position to do so,” Roux added.
After the suspension of all national team training and alignment camps and business travel as part of a raft of measures in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said plans are already in place to continue with preparations.
Scheduled Springbok alignment camps, Springbok Women’s training camps, as well as the Junior Springboks’ and Blitzboks’ preparations have all been suspended until 14 April.
“Speaking purely from a rugby point of view, we realise no one could prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, all of us in the game across the globe are in the same boat,” said Erasmus.
“As SA Rugby has already said we need to ensure the wellness of players, supporters and staff as well as playing rugby’s part in helping counter the pandemic.
“Our planning for the season will carry on regardless – whether it’s the Springboks, Junior Springboks, Blitzboks or our national women’s teams – as we still have a lot to prepare for.
“While there are challenges when it comes to face-to-face interaction with players and team activities, modern communication methods make it possible for coaches, players and management teams to keep in constant contact with one another.
“Nothing beats sitting around a table or running around on the training field, but this is not a unique situation to us here in South Africa and without going into too much detail, we can confirm that the work has not stopped and we are hard at work preparing for our forthcoming Tests, other matches or tournaments.”
The Springboks’ Castle Lager Incoming Series Tests in July (against Scotland and Georgia), Youth Week tournaments and Currie Cup remain as scheduled but will be reviewed in April.