Plans to restructure local rugby competitions in South Africa are currently under discussion in the wake of the recent measures introduced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. 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 PRO14.

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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 restructuring it in the interim so that we are able to afford game time to all our franchise and provincial teams,” said Roux.

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“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.

SA Rugby also announced they were throwing their full weight behind its country’s government policies and objectives in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nathi Mthethwa, South African Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture, briefed national sports federations on the government’s plans and called on sports bodies to support the campaign.

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“We wholeheartedly and without hesitation are completely aligned to the government’s aggressive approach to attempting to curb this pandemic,” said Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president. “All rugby has been suspended until the end of April and we have changed our business practices to support the need for ‘social distancing’.

“I call on the entire rugby fraternity to play their part in support of the government in curbing this pandemic. The Springboks showed last year that we as a nation are stronger when we are together and now is the time for all of us to act. We will continue to support government initiatives and directives and follow the advice of the Department of Health and other advisory bodies to beat back the disease.”

SA Rugby have cancelled all internal travel – unless business-critical – and all international travel – under any circumstances – until further notice. The organisation’s office remains open although an optional work-from-home policy has been introduced during the national emergency to allow for social distancing and self-isolation among other protocols.

“All face-to-face committee meetings have either been postponed or turned into online meetings and we continue to review forthcoming competitions,” continued Alexander. “These are unprecedented times and require unprecedented responses as well as the support, understanding and wholehearted engagement of all engaged in sport.”

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