After a frustrating few weeks for rugby in South Africa that included fears the 2021 Lions tour will be cancelled and the opt-out of Southern Kings and Cheetahs from the new Guinness PRO14 season starting in October, some better news was delivered on Friday.
Despite the ongoing worrying situation concerning the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, South Africa rugby officials have green-lighted the return of full-contact training from next week.
South Africa’s return to rugby has been way behind other leading nations in the sport. Matches returned in New Zealand in June, in Australia in July and in the UK and Ireland in August, but there is still no guarantee that games will be played again in South Africa this year.
Next week, though, will be important in trying to get things back to some level of normality as South Africa’s franchise teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas – return to full-contact training following completion of final health checks.
“The teams have been hard at work with non-contact training for the past five weeks, and once a final Covid-19 test has been passed, they will be able to step up a gear next week,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
— Springboks (@Springboks) August 28, 2020
“We are moving in the right direction and I would like to urge all rugby supporters and members of the wider South African rugby family to bear with us as we plan the way forward for the next couple of weeks.
“With the guidance of the government and working very hard with our various stakeholders, we have knuckled down and plotted our return to competitive action, which is getting closer every day. But we are also very mindful of the pitfalls associated with this and know things can change overnight.”
Roux added that SA Rugby and its various stakeholders were finalising plans for a return to play in line with the best available medical advice in order to ensure player welfare.
“Once we have finalised all the relevant plans and aligned with our broadcast partner, sponsors, franchises and other stakeholders, we will confirm the playing schedule.”
Incredible detail has been released on the lengths the Springboks preparation went to during their World Cup campaign. https://t.co/ZrUTHQ1QXe
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 26, 2020
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now