CAPE TOWN – The ongoing water crisis in Cape Town has affected another sporting code following last week’s decision to cancel club and junior cricket.
On Thursday night, the Western Province Rugby Union – following a meeting with their more than 90-club constituency – took the unprecedented decision to postpone club rugby until June.
This was confirmed to IOL Sport by WPRU deputy president Zelt Marais. The WP club rugby season normally starts in April.
The state of various fields around the Cape Peninsula and beyond paints a grim picture.
Photos supplied to IOL Sport show how dry some usually pristine pitches – such as those at Hamilton Rugby Club in Green Point, False Bay in Constantia and Durbell in Durbanville – have become due to the water crisis.
The pitch situation is believed to be dire at many underprivileged community clubs on the Cape Flats as well.
Marais said after the meeting that it was “something beyond our control”.
“We’ve seen the cricket, baseball and soccer being affected by the drought. But the clubs are all happy about the decision taken. They understand the thinking – we are not God, we can’t change things,” he said.
“It’s just one of those unfortunate things. We’ve been asked by the City of Cape Town to put a tentative date forward, and we’ve said 1 June.
“Some of the fields are in a really bad state, and I believe there were quite a few injuries at the Cape Town 10s at the weekend because of the state of the fields, because it’s just so dry. So, it’s about being safety-first now.
“We had a meeting with the City last week, and they are also having a mass meeting with stakeholders on Saturday from 2pm-5pm in the City Hall.”
IOL Sport understands that the June 1 date that has been pencilled in is also a rather optimistic one, considering the condition of many main fields and training pitches at the moment.
While rain has been forecast for Cape Town on Friday night, the region will need a dramatic increase in rainfall over the next few months for club rugby to take place – something that would be low down on the priority list as residents strive to avoid “Day Zero” being reached, which has been set back to May 11 from the original April 16.
Marais added that it is likely that club rugby in the Paarl and Stellenbosch regions would also be postponed indefinitely, although the WP Rugby Union have scheduled a meeting with that constituency soon.
Earlier on Thursday, the inter-ministerial task team announced that a declaration of a national disaster is possible by February 14.
“Currently, efforts are underway to classify the drought as a national disaster,” said Des van Rooyen, the head of the task team and the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
“This process will be finalised on or before 14 February. This will legally assign the responsibility to the national executive to co-ordinate the disaster, while a declaration is being considered to be finalised within a period of a month.
“The declaration will empower the Minister or his Delegate to issue Regulations and/or Directives in dealing with the drought disaster. We are convinced that this will enhance current measures to deal with the disaster.”