The decision by South Africa to withdraw from the upcoming Rugby Championship in Australia has been widely welcomed by Springboks fans. It was announced this Friday that the world champions will not be travelling to take part in the tournament.
SA officials cited “complications related to the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns about seriously jeopardising player welfare” as the reasons for not taking part.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said that the spread of South African players across many leagues in the world made congregating them for the tournament too complex.
He said: “This is a hugely disappointing outcome for our supporters and commercial partners but the ongoing impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations means we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare.
“Players in England, Ireland, France and Japan are subject to differing local regulations and travel protocols and potentially imminent renewed lockdowns in some territories.”
"We worked out that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before they could be ready for a Test match" ?https://t.co/j92C0YBe0S
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 16, 2020
While the current pandemic may be the leading cause of this decision, the South African public are looking at this at another angle. The 2019 Rugby Championship winners have not played a Test match since winning the World Cup last November and although Australia and New Zealand have only played one so far, both nations have played a lot of domestic rugby.
Meanwhile, domestic rugby in South Africa has only just resumed after months of inactivity. There were concerns among Springboks fans about sending a severely underprepared team to the tournament. These are the sentiments shared by director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who highlighted the discrepancy in preparation between the competing nations, although Argentina are in a similar position to the Springboks.
Though a large contingent of players based in Europe have been playing frequently in recent weeks, those based in South Africa or Japan have not and Erasmus said players need a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before playing Test rugby at the Rugby Championship.
The priority for many fans is to ensure South Africa are focused on the British and Irish Lions tour next July and August, and travelling to Australia may not help that. Having said that, as it stands South Africa do not have a fixture before the first Test against the Lions next July.
That match could potentially be the team’s first match in almost 20 months, although surely arrangements will be made in the intervening time.
Absolutely correct decision. All Blacks and Wallabies have been playing so much competitive rugby in the past few weeks, Boks won’t be able to compete.
— Devar Pillay (@DevarPillay_NZ) October 16, 2020
Great decision by SA Rugby. No point risking injury against teams that have had far longer to prepare. Player safety is the most important thing
— Lauren Burrows (@LaurenRae_37) October 16, 2020
Good choice, don’t give the others the satisfaction of beating a underprepared World Champion side
— MKR Cinema (@MKRCINEMA) October 16, 2020
Right call. Everyone would be more upset seeing an undercooked Bok team struggle against the Aussies and the All Blacks.
— Zayd (@Zayder001) October 16, 2020
Great call, rather focus on Lions tour next year and make it count.
— Pieter Groenewald ?? (@pieterg100) October 16, 2020
The correct call SARU. We cannot risk our brand by sending a under prepared squad to a tournament. When we play we need to play to win every single game.
— jacques (@jacque0001) October 16, 2020
Correct decision. Apart from the quarantine, the whole show is one giant home game for oz. How did anyone agree to that? We all know how difficult it is to win away in this comp. Boks are World Champs ?and holders of Rugby Championship title – they need us more than we need them
— Dion (@dionloubser) October 16, 2020
Great call by the SARU. We’re the champs that would’ve bruised our brand, they need us not the other way around and we’re clearly far from ready https://t.co/AzVZoIvjTp
— IG: benny_nikani (@simply_Benny) October 16, 2020
The Bigger picture is the British and Irish Lions Tour, I feel it carries more weight than The Rugby Championship anyway. Player Welfare and Player Management are of paramount importance and our players still have a lot of fine tuning to do.
— Coach Time (@TimeSesethu) October 16, 2020
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