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South Africa's spot at top of the world at risk due to delayed start to rugby calendar

By Online Editors
Springboks prop Steven Kitshoff. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

The World Champion Springboks will be at a distinct disadvantage should they face New Zealand and Australia in a revamped Rugby Championship later this year.

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South Africa Rugby Chief Executive Officer Jurie Roux told a video-conference call earlier this week that they had allocated October and November as the timezones for the possibility of the return to Test rugby.

While there is still plenty of uncertainty as to what type of competitions the international window will include and the situation remains “very fluid”, Roux said the possibility of playing the Rugby Championship in a single venue ‘bubble’ is one of the options on the table.

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Jeff Wilson and the team at Sky Sports NZ preview Round 1 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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Jeff Wilson and the team at Sky Sports NZ preview Round 1 of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

However, the Boks will have lots of ground to make up when they take to the field again to defend their status as the world’s top-ranked team.

New Zealand’s franchises have been training for weeks and their inhouse competition, Super Rugby Aotearoa, gets underway this weekend.

Australian teams have also returned to the training field, with Super Rugby AU set to kick off on July 3.

South African teams are set to return to ‘limited’ training next week and a domestic competition is scheduled to get underway in August.

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Injured Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff on Wednesday told a digital press conference that they are desperate to get back on the field as soon as possible.

“That [the delayed start] is why we want to get back on the field and start playing, even if it is behind closed doors,” Kitshoff told the media briefing.

He admitted match fitness and game readiness are going to play a massive role when the international season gets underway.

“If they [New Zealand and Australian teams] have already played six or seven games and we just started, it will have a massive influence on how prepared we are.”

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He said it will be interesting to see where the teams are, how well they are conditioned and how quickly they can adapt to the whole post-COVID-19 situation.

“It is going to be very interesting to see how quickly can we get back to match fitness and perform like we did when the international season kicks off again,” he said of a Bok team that was on the crest of a wave after winning the Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama, Japan, last year.

The Sharks, with World Cup winners Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am in sublime form, were top of the standings after seven rounds – when the competitions were suspended as a result of COVID-19.

The Stormers relied heavily on their World Cup-winning forwards – like Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Steph du Toit – that saw them win all their matches opening in the four matches – before a two-match wobble and some crippling injuries halted their progress.

Kitshoff also revealed that he is in the final weeks of his rehabilitation, after undergoing surgery for a torn pectoral muscle injury – suffer in the 14-24 loss in last round of Super Rugby against the Sharks on March 14.

“Rehabilitation has been going great and I am feeling good,” Kitshoff said, adding: “I have a lot of mobility back and I am starting to build on upper body strength.

“I’ve got a month or so left. I don’t have any issues, no pain and it’s just about trying to get the strength back and starting to make contact.”

– Jan de Koning/Rugby365

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Rugby 1 hours ago
How Queensland Reds can spark Schmidt's Wallaby revolution

interesting. I did see last year Queensland and Brad Thorn use some bokke moves like the 6-2 bench and a move the bulls did in bringing back the tap and go from 5 out instead of the line out and maul. There can be many errors in a lineout, you loose control esp. if ref calls a borderline not straight, jumping across line, etc etc it is out of your control, then the maul, a few rules can mess you up again in the eyes of a ref, or others, you lose control. At least in a tap and go you control the move and the play, just have to 1. catch the ball and 2 watch the jackling from opposition, 3 watch being held up over try line. WAY to go I reckon. *2024. Tap and go 5 meters out.* The axis is key, Lynagh McDermott (great cricket name) Wilson So Joe Schmidt will be watching and the Pacific Lions coaches are in Melbourne watching, poach city. I think if Q can get the Kiss of life not the Kiss of death they may well unlock that stacked backline. Vunivalu is improving. Kiss (and Brad Davis, Jonathan Fisher, Zane Hilton and Dale Roberson) and the progressive attacking style may work. He loves coaching. No pressure. Hell he knows the Bokke and Ireland, and time with ulster. Based on his league past he will understand how to break this flat line. He is a hands on skill set coach. One thing i am still waiting to see in union is the skill often shown in league, when 5 meters out they can kick into the post get the deflection and wrong foot opposition to score. Good Luck Queensland, hope you do well. They have the Hurricanes next Bula

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